Hard lessons may result in heavy baggage, and being candid with the world as to what the bags hold is its own level of bravery. This courageous area is comfortably inhabited by Kate Crutchfield, best known as Waxahatchee. Her brand of faithfully honest songwriting fortifies the heart of her latest release Saint Cloud, a work directly on the heels of Crutchfield’s embrace of sobriety, and her writing portrays a reckoning of her past personal misdeeds as well as her vow of forgiveness leading ultimately to the enrichment of self-love.
Saint Cloud opens with the warm and poetic “Oxbow.” Crutchfield explains this choice, “I wanted it to be a big-sounding, genre-confusing song that makes you wonder what the rest of the record will be. I always saw it as the beginning of the story, which is the decision to start taking better care of myself. If we’re going to talk about the record, we have to talk about my sobriety.”
This decision to take better care, and the resulting newfound self-reverence allows her previously inaccessible love to permeate others. “Can’t Do Much” addresses the intense early stages of a romance, “The Eye” chronicles appreciation from one artist to another, and “Witches” is an ode to close friendship. The inverse is here as well, as the album acknowledges the suffering of addiction, both self-inflicted like in the track “Fire,” and the profound grief of the loss of others in “Arkadelphia” and “Ruby Falls.” Even in these heavier moments, Crutchfield copes with tremendous pain without leaving the listener down, yet the music is not so delicate that the messages evaporate. “I think all of my records are turbulent and emotional, but this one feels like it has a little dose of enlightenment. It feels a little more calm and less reckless,” Crutchfield concludes.
The record ends with another poem, the title track “St. Cloud.” Named for her father’s hometown, we’re left with an external examination of the world as a whole and consideration of one’s fit within. Between the poems lives a clean and modern musical expanse also including the singles “Lilacs” which is finding wide reach on WDST, KUTX, and KRML, and “Can’t Do Much” is now spinning countrywide on stations like WAPS, KCSN, and WNRN.