REVIEW: Waxahatchee – “Air”
by Chad Jewett
Waxahatchee’s 2013 LP Cerulean Salt was a warm, compelling thirty minutes of pop austerity. The album’s songs never got thicker than a pair of guitars and a rhythm section; occasionally, they achieved striking beauty with a lot less. “Air”, our first glimpse at Ivy Tripp — Katie Crutchfield’s third release under the Waxhatchee moniker – is a bit more densely appointed, and works in a subtly syncopated groove that feels especially new following the stomp-or-swing rhythms of Cerulean Salt. Besides the airy tangibility of past Waxahatchee records – which has always been seriously lovely in its own right – Crutchfield’s careful whittling of sound has meant that you could track each addition and subtraction like a scene in slow motion. The Alabama singer-songwriter makes art that’s simultaneously transparent and poignantly opaque. So one notices the added brushstrokes on “Air”: that wonderful falsetto-as-riff that dots the breaks; the subtly wider proportions of the song’s sonic space (in a press release Crutchfield noted the changed atmosphere of the new LP); that radiant mood-change of a chorus that quite literally adds a new dimension to the rugged economy of Cerulean Salt’s directness. What remains is Crutchfield’s sense of weighted detail (“I left you out like a carton of milk”) and her still-remarkable ability to say more with less.