Waxahatchee - Cerulean Salt | Album Review | By Volume

Gotta get out, before my heart explodes. Candy Says - Not Kings


Cerulean Salt

Katie Crutchfield expands her singular sound into a widescreen, immensely touching adventure.

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Author: on May 16, 2013
Don Giovanni Records
March 5, 2013

What a turnaround for Katie Crutchfield. Not to intimate that her debut American Weekend was a poor record or that her work with old band, P.S. Eliot, was anything less than excellent. No, just, Cerulean Salt is something I can safely say I never saw coming. Sure, her tempered acoustics are still kind of at the forefront with her second solo effort, but the maturation in her sound is what grabs tight to your heart. No longer adhering to a predominantly stripped bare aesthetic, her music is now allowed more room to breathe. Standouts like “Dixie Cups and Jars” or “Misery Over Dispute” are still pretty minimal in their composition – rarely stretching beyond casual guitar-reverb and prodding percussion – but it is Crutchfield who keeps your attention. Her nasally voice and wayward outcries are lyrical gems, ones that require no dusting off as Cerulean Salt injects directly from ears to heart with sensational ease.

I’ll write a tragic epilogue and you’ll act it out” she surmises on “Dixie Cups and Jars” a lo-fi masterpiece of emotional catharsis, wherein Crutchfield paints tragedy into serene beauty. The song barely scratches three and a half minutes, though it is Cerulean Salt’s longest track – but this is an album of quality not quantity. For hovering just over thirty-two minutes, Crutchfield squeezes every bit of water from these stones – and make no mistake these are rocks; heavy tracks, laden in glistening melodies to be found within their jagged confines. Songs like opener “Hollow Road,” the shimmering “Coast to Coast” and the raucous “Misery Over Dispute” never hit the two-minute mark but each is epic in scope. Crutchfield is able to pack her tunes with enough lyrical wit, quotable one-liners with such astute observational skills it is difficult not to desperately miss Cerulean Salt after it exits so exceptionally with the sincerely touching trio of, “Swan Dive,” “Peace and Quiet” and “You’re Damaged.”

Katie is so entrancing a lyricist that it can be easy to lose sight of just how talented a guitarist she is. Not so much in the technical sense, I’m sure there are plenty of folks who could pump out more notes, but Crutchfield’s talent lies in her ability to craft a catchy tune. Most of Cerulean Salt’s music seems built off of the same type of bedroom blueprints that were used in recording her more singular debut. While Cerulean Salt is definitely a more communal record – I mean Waxahatchee is no longer a solo act – her progressions and flourishes are intoxicating and generally lead to the album’s overall ease. Her pen is pointed and venomous, but for the most part her instrumentation is touching, which aids in the cathartic quality to Cerulean Salt, allowing us a piece of Crutchfield’s redemption. She puts all of herself out on display for us to see here, and my, what a thing it is to behold.

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