Waxahatchee – Cerulean Salt

There’s something about the new Waxahatchee record that keeps me coming back. This “something,” however, is not readily apparent. After listening to this record nonstop since it was released and pouring over the lyrics and liner notes, I couldn’t quite figure out what was so alluring about it.

Ostensibly, the record, the second solo effort of Katie Crutchfield, formerly of punk bands The Ackleys and P.S. Eliot, has several things going against it: Cerulean Salt seems anachronistic amongst the other records that have piqued the interest of blogs and tastemakers this year. The production often leaves a lot to be desired: bass, drums, guitar, and vocals are all that were used to create the emotionally tinged songs, often with only two of the four elements used simultaneously. The record also sounds like it could’ve been recorded in one day with a handful of mics in someone’s bedroom.

What I initially thought were shortcomings, I soon realized were the record’s strengths. It finally hit me after a few dozens listens: Cerulean Salt is relatable. In that “oh wow, that’s me” sort of way. The stories and characters that Crutchfield creates on Cerulean Salt skirt confrontation, would prefer to sleep in instead of getting up early, get drunk, have sex in rooms with thin walls while their roommates may or not be listening in, and commiserate over regret. You know, shit we used to do.

While some of the lyrics are quotidian and saccharine sweet (“if you think that I’ll wait forever you were right/ and I’ll give you everything you wanted if I can”), the way they are delivered is completely honest and genuine. Crutchfield’s delivery is simultaneously vulnerable and exuding with confidence, recalling early Elliott Smith and Microphones. This naivety/poise is what brings me back over and over.

This is a record that sounds more like a soundtrack to homemade, childhood movies more than anything else. It tugs at your heart in all the right places, it reminds you of the time you and your brother were visiting North Carolina and you couldn’t understand the kids you were playing with at the local park because of their thick southern accents, it smells like sweat and ice cream, and it will always be there whenever you want to take a break from being a grown up and reminisce about all the shit you used to do.

Cerulean Salt
[Don Giovanni]