‘Saint Cloud’ is the first Waxahatchee album since Katie Crutchfield became sober, and what’s resulted is a freshness in the eye of the songwriter. Having spent the last decade working in scruffy indie-rock, it’s somewhat shocking to hear the crystalline palette used on ‘Saint Cloud’, and even moreso to hear her perfect falsetto – shocking because it sounds so damn good and we had no idea she had it in her.
The spirit of country legends like Dolly Parton are the constellations above ‘Saint Cloud’, but the details are grounded in Crutchfield’s experience. She’s always had excellent songwriting chops, but her new clear-headedness brings this into even sharper focus. Songs like the besotted ‘Can’t Do Much’ and the folksy ‘Witches’ are threaded with golden melodies and a warmth that makes them immediately timeless.
Crutchfield’s ghosts are brought into the light, but treated with the compassion of a wizened 30-year-old. ‘Fire’ finds her reflecting her doubts in the scenery around her, while ‘Hell’ close to her spikier former self, but this time it’s a mea culpa: “I put you through hell”.
In hindsight, Waxahatchee’s gritty 2017 LP ‘Out In The Storm’ seems like Crutchfield scouring off the last of her restless youth. ‘Saint Cloud’ is the refreshed, reformed and matured Waxahatchee – and it’s glorious.
Words: Rob Hakimian
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