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What do we hold on to from our past? What must we let go of to truly move forward? Waxahatchee’s Katie Crutchfield spent much of 2018 reckoning with these questions and revisiting her roots for answers. The result is Saint Cloud, an intimate journey through the places she’s been, filled with the people she’s loved. Written immediately in the period following her decision to get sober, the album is an unflinching self-examination. This raw, exposed narrative terrain is aided by a shift in sonic arrangements as well. While her last two records featured the kind of big guitars, well-honed noise, and battering sounds that characterized her Philadelphia scene and strongly influenced a burgeoning new class of singer-songwriters, Saint Cloud strips back those layers to create space for Crutchfield’s voice and lyrics. The result is a classic Americana sound with modern touches befitting an artist who has emerged as one of the signature storytellers of her time. Many of the narratives on Saint Cloud concern addiction and the havoc it wreaks on ourselves and our loved ones, as Crutchfield comes to a deeper understanding of love not only for those around her but for herself. Saint Cloud is available in an indie store exclusive ‘coke bottle clear’ vinyl, housed in a matte gatefold jacket and includes a poster. A digital download is included.
Saint Cloud is an outstandingly accomplished depiction of the web addiction weaves throughout a life
Saint Cloud is a journey. It’s a drive that we as listeners go on, alongside Katie Crutchfield, the songwriter behind Waxahatchee. She made a decision, in 2018, to embrace sobriety, and this album tells the story of that decision. Instrumentally, Saint Cloud rarely strays from the country rulebook – but this is key to its emotive power. By using these well-worn sounds, Crutchfield can then set these songs ablaze lyrically. She examines every facet of addiction. ‘Hell’ details the struggles of resisting old temptations, and ‘War’ is written for her best friend, explaining that this affliction is one Crutchfield must bear alone. A particular highlight is mid-album cut ‘The Eye’, on the process of songwriting, and loving another artist. Crutchfield has been in a relationship with Kevin Morby since 2017; she describes her songwriting (“chase all the rain, put it down, call it paint”), and their shared need to write about their experiences (“powerless against the calling of the eye”).
Saint Cloud cuts deepest in moments of pure narrative. The tracks ‘Arkadelphia’ and ‘Ruby Falls’ are twin flashes of grief. ‘Arkadelphia’ is a window into the burden of just staying the course, Crutchfield speaking to the heart of recovery: “if we make pleasant conversation, I hope you can't see what's burning in me”. If ‘Arkadelphia’ is concerned with the reality of healing, ‘Ruby Falls’ is tells the story of a friend lost to overdose. The track ends with a concise summary of how it feels to watch on as a someone spirals – “I’m an angler married to the sea”. Saint Cloud is an outstandingly accomplished depiction of the web addiction weaves throughout a life. Katie Crutchfield’s is a vital voice, and she has on her hands a collection of songs that are at times both heart-breaking and life-affirming. Absolutely essential.