Singer-songwriter Katie Crutchfield returns with her latest Waxahatchee release and it is one of her most accessible and cleanest productions to date. Known for being a member of beloved indie rock group P.S Eliot, Crutchfield has been delighting people with her project Waxahatchee for about a decade now, taking from influences from emo, pop punk, and now diving deeper into Americana, adding folk and country into the mix.

Often thrown in with Angel Olsen and Phoebe Bridgers, Waxahatchee is known for its candid songwriting and melancholic melodies. This time around, Crutchfield provides something a bit more upbeat. The songs are more touched by her southern roots and though the lyrics remain genuine, they aren’t delivered with as much solemnity as they were in previous releases.

While some fans of P.S. Eliot may be disappointed by the altogether more mainstream album, in some ways it is Crutchfield harkening to her roots in country, folk, and singer-songwriters. It feels genuine, heartfelt. It goes without saying that some of her fans may not prefer the transition, to this listener it feels all the more authentic.

Saint Cloud by Waxahatchee

Furthermore the pacing of this album is on point. The first two tracks pass by without effort and then the first single “Fire” opens it up a bit. It has a slower pace that builds steadily. The dynamics don’t go unnoticed. Years of songwriting have paid off. “Lilacs,” the second single, is remarkably southern for Crutchfield. It feels like this is what she has been building up to her whole career.

The production of this album, however, is quite possibly too clean. There aren’t the same lo-fi vibes you get from P.S Eliot or early Waxahatchee. With more money and opportunity comes better equipment, nicer studios, and expert engineers, but this isn’t always completely a good thing. It is brilliantly produced, but it is arguably overproduced.

Saint Cloud flies by. The songs are short and engaging, they don’t bore. Yet it still feels like there is something missing. Despite it being one of Crutchfield’s most genuine releases, it doesn’t hit me in the chest like some of her older music. Maybe it’s because the listener can have a harder time actually hearing the lyrics. Perhaps success has trimmed off the sadness.

The acoustic guitars and keys create different songs than Crutchfield has done before.  You can hear that it’s her, but it feels like this may have been the record she had been meaning to make all along. For better or worse, it will likely split listeners—gaining new fans and losing others along the way.


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