Waxahatchee - Ivy Tripp - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Waxahatchee - Ivy Tripp

by Jim Cunnar Rating:10 Release Date:2015-04-07

Waxahatchee is named after a creek not far from founder Katie Crutchfield's home in Alabama. The irony isn't lost that Katie's vehicle for her unique brand of songwriting is named for something that twists and turns, much like the progression of her sound. Ivy Tripp, her third album on Wichita Recordings in the UK and Merge in the US, shows a songwriter willing to build upon the vulnerable themes of 2012's very lo-fi American Weekend and the wonderful splash that was 2013's Cerulean Salt

Opener 'Breathless' immediately displays the new - a droning, fuzz-filled sound on which Katie channels her inner Sinead O'Connor. Lyrically, this song maintains the raw and introspective themes of her previous two recordings, with Katie singing "You take what you want/ you wear it out/ I'm not trying to be a rose/ You see me how/ I wish I was/ but I'm not trying to be seen," in such a way you want to hug her through your speakers.

'Under a Rock' and 'Poison' follow, opening up the album with electric guitars and overdubs, a much harder and rock-laden edge that was only dabbled with on Cerulean Salt. These songs are loud and raucous, and will easily fill the rooms she is going to play. Later on, 'The Dirt' turns up the volume again, giving Lydia Loveless and her punk-country vibe a run for it's money. 

'La Loose' and 'Stale By Noon' change gears, displaying just electronic keyboards and Katie's beautiful soprano. 'La Loose' seems a bit out of place, but the song builds nicely, deftly layering 80s synthesizers over her vocals. On 'Stale By Noon', she quietly sings "I get lost/ looking up". This song's beauty is in it's sparseness. 

The middle of the album is filled with simple, melodic minimally produced songs. 'Summer of Love' (acoustic guitar) and 'Half Moon' (piano) are textbook Waxahatchee, showcasing Katie's fragile yet powerful voice. These single instrument songs allow the beauty of her voice to shine.

The album ends with 'Bonfire', the bookend to 'Breathless'. Musically, it has the same drony vibe and slow, driving bassline, but with voyeuristic lyrics about a relationship ending. She pines "You ask a lot/ She said go ahead/ He said go ahead/ I say go ahead". It's confident, a confidence she quietly established across the 13 song narrative.

However, confidence can be a double edge sword in music. Take the new sound of Mumford & Sons. They came out blazing in 2009 with a hard-folk edge which people immediately embraced, catpulting them to arena stages almost instantly. 

The massive success of their first two albums provided them the chance (and confidence) to try something new. The problem is, this confidence to change and try something new turned them into Coldplay. Yawn. 

This album is the complete opposite of that. Musically, this album takes risks and explores new sounds with a confidence not exhibited on her first two albums, yet Katie Crutchfield was able to maintain the strength that made her first two albums so promising - intimacy. This is still Waxahatchee, just version 3.0, and this version is the best yet. 

You can almost sense she had a wry smile on her face as she crafted these brilliant testimonies of growth, strength and wisdom, and the journey it took to acquire them. Having the guts to put these stories to a collection of droning, fuzzy, loud, intimate, acoustic, electronic and sparse sounds ensures an instant classic, and what will be one of the best recordings of 2015.

Comments (2)

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Strong review Jim. Not familiar with the artist but I like Loveless, so I'll have a listen.

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Thanks Rob. After you give it a listen, let me know if you agree or disagree with my points!

There are no comments posted here yet
Related Articles