If you’re looking for a record to kick you in the guts, have I found one for you. Katie Crutchfield is a singer-songwriter from Alabama, and she’s released several solo records under the name Waxahatchee. The most recent is named Ivy Tripp, and it’s an alternatingly tortuous and bubbly emotional roller coaster. This is the record for when “I don’t know what I’m doing” and “I know what I’m going to do” overlap.
Crutchfield’s lyrics are like a Rubik’s Cube: seemingly simple and colorful, but difficult to parse. Once you apply yourself, however, and start to think about the words as a whole, the puzzle starts to unlock. Some songs include only hints and suggestions, the specific being unnecessary to evoke the necessary emotion. These songs manage to encapsulate whole relationships in four minute time-spans, and they aren’t just the ballads of the heartbroken. There are songs for heartbreakers, home-wreckers, and those who don’t need another human in their lives.
“You look at me like I’m a rose
Singing a song that you don’t know
And you always walk so slow
If I was foolish I would chase
A feeling I long ago let fade
And we could be good for days”
Motion and stillness are constant motifs, with the unspoken question being: which is the right choice? This constant struggle between push and pull is stressful for most of us, and anxiety permeates most of these songs. Other emotions are tied together as well; “The Dirt” combines a brash confidence with the depression-tinged realization “I’m a basement brimming with nothing great”.
The songs are all over the place musically, with Crutchfield’s soulful voice and crushing lyrics as the only consistency. There is the almost-ambient slowness of “Breathless” followed by the more traditional pop-rock chords of “Under a Rock”, the manic chaos of a song entitled “<” before the light and breezy “Grey Hair”. There’s acoustic guitars and synthesizers and keyboards and tambourines; every musician involved played multiple instruments all over the record.
What manages to keep all of these songs together and make this album cohesive is the feeling, the emotion that binds them like some heartbreaking Force. This record exists for when you’re looking at someone and your heart beats faster at the same time that your breath gets more shallow, whatever the circumstance may be. If you’ve ever wanted music to simultaneously soothe you and leave you stricken, grab this album.