[sic] Magazine

Waxahatchee – Cerulean Salt

There are two types of song on Katie Crutchfield ‘s Cerulean Salt – the same type of hyper-intimate girl-and-guitar lo-fi as made her debut American Weekend memorable, and – with the inclusion of electric guitar and the barest bones of a band – spikier early-90s rock in the vein of, say, all the bands that Yuck owe royalties too. On both strains though you can just tell she’s the sort of songwriter for whom lyrics are scribbled under lock and key whilst sat protectively in some bookish corner. As a result, you overhear certain of her tracks as you might by passing a school’s music room after hours. It’s almost voyeuristic at times, but it’s this same quality that has given Crutchfield her sleeping, creeping success to date.

If this all sounds like a cliché, then it’s only because Crutchfield evokes such achingly familiar imagery that you feel some of her songs have been around for years and that you and she are in some way star-crossed. Midway through the opener, “Hollow Bedroom”, you’ll realise you’re transfixed, totally in love with the hometown girl that sits cross-legged at the foot of her bed. The cutesy, near-spoken “Lips And Limbs” too seems ripped straight from the set of some mumblecore masterpiece, such as may have starred a young Zooey Deschanel . So is it also a track that bleeds a little Rilo Kiley / Jenny Lewis -brand alt-country into the mix, a sound that “Brother Bryan” will later take and slowly dismember with super-crude bass and rickety percussion. On “Peace And Quiet”, she’ll even manage to harness some of Neutral Milk Hotel ‘s classic tumbling themes and universal truths.

And then Crutchfield plugs in, the crackling distortion in “Misery Over Dispute” kicking like a whisky chaser, the buzz-saw intro to “Waiting” cutting the air like a lightning bolt. Even still, Crutchfield is still a creature of restraint for whom minimal means skeletal, and the fizzy “Coast To Coast” is the closest that Cerulean Salt comes to a full-band product, thanks in part to under-produced efforts from her friends Kyle Gilbride and Keith Spencer of Swearin’ . Best of all, when Crutchfield swarms her husky Alabama accent around the barbed melodies of “Dixie Cups And Jars”, it’s as if she’s perfected time travel back to the time when PJ Harvey and Liz Phair had youthful fire in their bellies.

Cerulean Salt ‘s real power however is its honesty. Crutchfield and her songs are completely, suffocatingly believable. Herein lies a problem though. These are songs to cherish and to share with the closest of friends, but equally are they songs likely to wither under the glare of overexposure. Put some of these songs on the main stage and they’ll lose all resonance, keep the best ones secret and they’ll mean the world to a lucky few.

Advised downloads: “Dixie Cups And Jars” and “Coast To Coast”.

~Cerulean Salt is given its UK release on Wichita 1st July 2013.~