Indie Music

Waxahatchee: Tigers Blood review – intimate Americana tackling life’s great tangle

The evolution of Waxahatchee is one of modern music’s most satisfying journeys. From 2013’s rickety, wispy Cerulean Salt to Saint Cloud, her full-bodied shift to Americana in 2020, Katie Crutchfield has chronicled the ups and downs of existence in intimate but sweeping songs that needle at the point of it all. On Tigers Blood, she returns clear-eyed and spirited with a twisting country album of anthemic earworms that evoke long summer evenings, intimate chats and misty-eyed regret.

These are songs written by someone who has lived a life and found it all to be simultaneously complex and straightforward. There’s no narrative through-line: the album is a series of moments and feelings that reflect on the great tangle that is being alive. Crutchfield sings about the paradox of songwriting, her quickness to anger, friendships that teeter and crumble, loves that become clear in hindsight – as on Lone Star Lake: “My life’s been mapped out to a T / But I’m always a little lost.” She renders it all in a finely picked blend of country and punk, the prickliness of earlier records gently softening into a fine fuzz.

Along with rousing melodies and galloping choruses, Crutchfield plays with cliche and mixes metaphors (particularly on Crowbar, endlessly winking at itself). The lyrical effect is a kind of mind maze: concentrate too hard and you’ll tie yourself in knots, but look at it out of the corner of your eye and it swims into focus. Crutchfield has said that after the sobriety glow-up of Saint Cloud, there’s no major narrative attached to Tigers Blood, an album that comes across more like a good feeling than a statement.

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