Waxahatchee: ‘Ivy Tripp’ Album Review

Courtesy of mergerecords.com
Courtesy of mergerecords.com

Three years ago, Katie Crutchfield released her first album straight from her home in Alabama under the band name Waxahatchee. Now, Crutchfield has quickly become a champion of the low-fi, indie-folk underground scene. After the release of 2013’s Cerulean Salt, Waxahatchee quickly found themselves expanding their reach. They were signed to UK label Wichita Recordings, who currently represent First Aid Kit, Los Camesinos!, and Conor Oberst. They even found themselves supporting Tegan and Sara two years ago, on their UK tour. Ivy Tripp, Waxahatchee’s third album, finds Crutchfield at her most realistic, cohesive, and self-reflective. It’s an album that’s rooted in her familiar and personal relationships, and how touring and being away has both healed and harmed those closest to her.

Breathless,” the first song off Ivy Tripp, is a slow nurturing open that perfectly sets the groundwork for where Crutchfield is at mentally with a relationship that’s on the rocks. “You take what you want / You call me back / I’m not trying to be yours / You indulge me / I indulge you / But I’m not trying to have it all.” It’s about a less-than-perfect love, with Crutchfield unable to fully detach herself from and unable to dive into. She’s at a strange and unfamiliar roadblock. Although it feels like the end of a relationship and more-so the end of an album, the song forces us to understand Crutchfield’s fears and current motives.

In fact, Ivy Tripp finds Crutchfield at her most vulnerable and daring. She fully utilizes the wide span of her talents and influences. “La Loose” carries with it a DIY feel, equipped with a fake drum kit and floating keyboards. It’s one of the most love heavy songs on the album, but Crutchfield is still very sure to point out the reality of her relationship: “I know that I feel more than you do / I selfishly want you here to stick to.” Although she isn’t receiving the love she earns for, her current level of comfort is more appealing to her, and can’t seem to rid herself of it. Throughout the album, she’s constantly self-reflecting. On “Stale By Noon” she softly sings, “I can imitate some kind of love / Or I could see it for what it is and stop kidding myself / We are not that alike.”

As she lessens the reverb on her guitars and allows for a smidge of polish, Crutchfield gains a strong backbone and finds herself at her most confident yet. “Under a Rock” is fast-paced, bold, and unforgiving. “Poison” is similar and has her singing, “Travel the world ivy tripping / with no spotlight.” The lyrics point towards her recent, very heavy tour schedule and how that’s affected her life outside of music. “Less Than” is a quieter song, with Crutchfield self-loathing and very upset: “You’re less than me / I am nothing.” The last half of the song features the drumming, guitars, and keys all becoming undone. They purposefully lose their rhythm and it results in a wonderful cataclysm, highlighting Crutchfield’s vulnerability and loss of hope.

With Crutchfield expanding her sound, her lyrics show maturity and ease, too. Some of her best lyrics to date come off the track, “The Dirt.” The song features dimmed electronic guitars, an acoustic guitar, and quick drumming. Crutchfield brashly starts with the verse “Loaded, you’ll eulogize before you will preach / Rubbing your filthy hands on my speech / My hedonistic sugar-white beach / And the grievance that I breed.” The incredibly rich and dark lyrics come through again on the gorgeous piano ballad, “Half Moon.” “Our love tastes like sugar but it pulls all the life out of me.” Waxahatchee bares all her worries, her wrongdoings, and her current state of mind so effortlessly that it borders on spiritual and therapeutic. “Blue” contains a mystical ambiance to it, and it proves how quickly Waxahatchee can pull out deep emotions without hesitation.

Summer of Love” highlights Waxhatchee at her core. It’s about how she’s unable to be where she’s at, without her past love. She needs a change or an outlet to allow her to grieve and move on. Ivy Tripp is an album that is shamelessly current. It’s an album that could’ve only been made post-Cerulean Salt. It’s earnest and straight to the point. It’s about the people we meet in life, both currently and in the past. It’s about mistakes and regrets and trying to latch onto something that is only holding us back. But, at its essence, it’s an impressive and deeply personal album that will keep Waxahatchee adored and revered as a prominent artist in the underground indie-folk world.