BEST ALBUMS OF 2015: Waxahatchee’s mystifying “Ivy Tripp”

Waxahatchee Creek is a body of water that feeds the lower Coosa River near Shelby, Ala. It’s also the moniker songwriter and Birmingham, Ala. native Katie Crutchfield has used to craft three indie masterpieces, equal parts devastating honesty and gritty wisdom.

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Crutchfield’s breakthrough was 2013’s Cerulean Salt, an insidious collection of songs, at times capturing portraits of people on the edge, hanging on by a  tattered thread.

“I will grow out of all the empty bottles in my closet/And you’ll quit having dreams about a swan dive to the hard asphalt,” she laments to a grieving lover on “Swan Dive”.

In painstaking detail recalling songwriter Elliott Smith, Crutchfield captured haunting vignettes of tormented drug addicts, suicidal lovers and vagabond youth. (Escape yells both our names out loud/
We run like hell, I’ll write a tragic epilogue and you’ll act it out,” she howls over urgent, tinny guitar riffs on “Dixie Cups and Jars”)

Waxahatchee’s third record “Ivy Tripp”(her first since being signed to Merge Records) finds the prolific songwriter more confident as she creeps further into adulthood. Crutchfield, however, hasn’t lost her distinct talent of delivering a lyric capable of ripping your heart in two.

Album opener “Breathless” is jilting and abrasive, as Crutchfield recalls old habits  “If I was foolish I would chase a feeling I long ago let fade/ We could be good for days.”

On “La Loose,”  upbeat drum-machine instrumentals contrast Crutchfield’s penetrating lyrics. “And this charming picture of hysteria and love/ It could fade or wrinkle up, I don’t hold faith in much”.

Album standout “Poison,” bears the record’s title, a term Crutchfield coined to describe a certain aimlessness definitive of the twenty-something experience.

“And your birthday party tongue, dripping your summer eyes/ Travel the world Ivy tripping with no spotlight,” she sings through fuzzy distortion.

Favorite tracks: Poison, Grey Hair, <

 

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