Waxahatchee “Out in the Storm” album review

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Rating: 8/10

The latest Waxahatchee album comes pouring out of the floodgates this July, granting us another peek into Katie Crutchfield’s world of ideas and sound. This time, on the album “Out in the Storm,” the songwriter deals with life post-breakup. We delve deeper than ever before as Crutchfield grants us an intimate and raw look at the intensity of emotions that can accompany any relationship, especially one that is actively falling apart. As listeners, all we can do is strap in and enjoy the ride.

 

“Out in the Storm” emerges with intensity on the first track “Never Been Wrong.” Driving electric guitar and drums move into Crutchfield’s delivery:

 

“But the margin’s gigantic

Am I happy or manic

Does it make you feel good

To blend in with the wall

 

Everyone will hear me complain

Everyone will pity my pain”

 

Crutchfield is angry about the disillusionment and disagreement that comes with the end of a relationship, and everything about the song speaks to this frustration. The electric guitars churn with anxious energy, the sort of explosive force that makes love such a wild game. No one in Crutchfield’s presence will be free of the pain that she’s feeling because it’s impossible to keep it in, seeping out at any opportunity to color her life.

 

On “Silver,” Crutchfield seems ready to lose her sanity as one realizing that the world never lets up, that giving up isn’t an option in the midst of a storm:

 

“If I turn to stone

The whole world keeps turnin’

I went out in the storm

And I’m never returnin’”

 

With every song, she refuses to let up. We just dive deeper into the singer’s regrets and memories, the visceral feelings of just standing on the grass and trying to keep it all together. “Recite Remorse” is the song that dives into those feelings and doesn’t look back. Among a backdrop of ethereal sounds, Crutchfield isn’t afraid to tell us exactly how broken and vulnerable she can be:

 

“I was shaking like a leaf

I was clenching my fists

I was losing my mind, yeah

I was dancing with death

When I stood in my front yard

Felt the sun on my face

It just felt like a rerun

Holding everything in place”

 

The sound of the album is both heavier and more refined at once. Crutchfield starts out in blaze and doesn’t stop the outpour of intensity. She agonizes over memories and past feelings, approaching it from different angles until she seems exhausted, but then rips it into again with a renewed fire. Although it lacks the tenderness and intimacy of earlier releases, “Out in the Storm” is engrossing in a whole new way, playing out like a fiery tale that is going to burn until nothing is left.

 

“A Little More” is a respite from the intensity, a soft song that feels almost ballad-esque as Crutchfield repeats “I live a little more / And I die a little more” over a spacious production of acoustic guitar and light instrumentation. Her voice shines out on the track, demonstrating a mixture of beauty and vulnerability that fills her songs with shades of aching. The effect is one of floating on the clouds, of watching the pain of life unfold from a blue daydream.

 

“Out in the Storm” is a sharp album with a stellar production that contrasts its raw lyrics and unbridled emotion. Crutchfield balances it well, though, coming across as the sort of heart-on-their-sleeve rocker this world needs. One minute she’s talking in oblique verse, then the next she’s direct and vulnerable, such as on “Brass Beam:”

 

“Narcissistic injury

Disguised as masterpiece

I just wanna run, yeah, I don’t wanna fight

I just want to sing my songs

And sleep through the night”

 

At album’s end Crutchfield has exhausted the rest of her energy, coming to a realization about herself that seems tired and late. It’s a loss of self that comes at the end of many relationships, and the song “Fade” is a mourning of that reality as Crutchfield realizes how much of herself was poured into the partnership. At the end she repeats:

 

“I’m fading, fading away.”

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