Waxahatchee - Cerulean Salt

Waxahatchee - Cerulean Salt

Waxahatchee is the indie-rock musical project of Katie Crutchfield, who has been making music with her twin sister, Allison since the age of 15. Cerulean Salt is Crutchfield's second album on Don Giovanni Recordings since her debut solo record last year, American Weekend. With these experiences behind her, the album is full of seamlessly melodic pop-punk songs.

Written and recorded with her roommates in the basement of her Philadelphia home, Cerulean Salt reflects on her Alabama upbringing, evoking the landscape as well as the crushing, emotional side of her life there. It's an album full of sharp, bitter moments, underlined by a burning desire for tenderness.

Cerulean Salt is balanced between sparse, welcoming production that warmly enhances any natural space; and crashing, enveloping songwriting that burns cathartically. The songwriting exists in an intensely personal realm. Songs like 'Lips and Limbs' come off as holding an anti-folk influence, similar to The Moldy Peaches or Jeffrey Lewis. Similarly, 'Blue Pt. II' is a duet with her sister Allison which is so vocally intwined that it's reminiscent of Elliott Smith's double-tracking. This song is perhaps the closest to a title track on the album, Crutchfield having originally wanted to call the album 'Blue', before recalling Joni Mitchell's album Blue.

'Hollow Bedroom' opens the album, riding up into a wave of distortion and giving way to the runaway-minded 'Dixie Cups and Jars'. 'Like minds let go of doubt / I watched it blow right out,' Crutchfield sings in a shivering moment of desolated resignation. 'Coast to Coast' is the next noisy track on the album, and is the most straight-forward 90s alt-rock track on the album along with 'Waiting'. It brings to mind Sonic Youth or a scuzzy version of The Primitives. 'Misery Over Dispute' is by far the most emotionally heavy and weighing of the electric songs on Cerulean Salt. 'I chose misery over dispute' is a lyric not just born out of the domestic troubles of a teenager, but also the experience of two sisters alienated from the hyper masculine punk scene at the beginning of their career.

However, it's in the quieter songs that Cerulean Salt has its most impacting moments. Through the wavering, nostalgic writing of 'Brother Bryan' to the crooning, heartbreaking album highlight 'Swan Drive', Crutchfield delivers her most devastating songwriting. 'I'll keep having dreams about loveless marriage and regret,' she sings. Closing the album, 'You're Damaged' combines tortuously strummed-out guitar chords with her most soul-bearing vocal performances to date. 'In this dejection lives a connection,' she sings. The appeal of Cerulean Salt lies in this connection--it's a connection with someone who feels the same way as you do, at the time when you need them to.

Cerulean Salt is a comforting album, but it's a also a sad album. It possesses a bedroom charm through its melodies and its memories that sets it apart from similar efforts. As a melancholy album, it is in no way a whole experience or an album for all times. All the same, for those moments it is needed, Cerulean Salt is an excellent elixir.

Bring tissues and listen to 'Swan Dive' via Youtube below:

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