Friday, September 20, 2013

Gut Feeling: Waxahatchee - Cerulean Salt

Waxahatchee – Cerulean Salt
Don Giovanni, 2013
Cerulean Salt is a small album. It clocks in at just over thirty minutes and most of the songs hover around the two-and-a-half minute mark. Those are the sorts of stats that make my eyes light up, and Katie Crutchfield’s understanding of concise songwriting is what really makes this album work. It makes frequently often heart wrenching songs that much more potent, and while Cerulean Salt may not be my favorite album of 2013, it’s one of the albums I have listened to the most because Crutchfield’s (mostly) quiet songs are just the sort of thing I like to listen to late at night.

Crutchfield seems to have a lot in common with Laura Stevenson. Both have played in pop-punk bands, both have released albums on well respected DIY labels (No Idea for Stevenson and Plan-It-X for Crutchfield), and both are signed to Don Giovanni records. That’s really where the comparisons end (other than the obvious fact that they are both supreme tunesmiths). Stevenson is more soulful and more idiosyncratic where Crutchfield is fragile and hits you straight in the gut with her confessional lyrics. Her songs oscillate between acoustic and electric guitar, but they almost always feels hushed, stripped down, and spare with the exception the punk-tinged pop tune “Coast to Coast,” the jaunty “Lips and Limbs,” and “Peace and Quiet,” which highlights what the album does best via its quiet verse and big catchy chorus. The quiet little songs are where this album lives and breaths. Though the songs feel small, they’re never slight. Crutchfield has one of those beautifully plain voices that really works to sell the humanity of her songs. Cerulean Salt’s most potent asset is that you feel like you’re sitting right next to this person spill their guts onto the floor.

"Misery Over Dispute"

"Peace and Quiet"

"Lips and Limbs"

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