Inspired by the women who smashed punk’s bulletproof glass ceiling, Birmingham, Alabama-bred Katie Crutchfield, along with her twin sister Allison, played in DIY pop outfit P.S. Eliot (which called it quits in 2011). Now flying solo as stripped-down solo artist Waxahatchee, Crutchfield became an ideal addition in 2011 to Don Giovanni, a label that’s heavily stacked with New York and New Jersey DIY artists who are just as comfortable (if not more so) rocking basements as notable venues. Her second album, Cerulean Salt, was recorded in her new home in West Philly where she resides with her sister, who now fronts the high-energy punk group Swearin’. While the new record represents a considerable leap in ambition, it retains the hand-made, intensely personal quality that defined Crutchfield’s earlier work.
Named for her home state’s Waxahatchee Creek, an isolated area where Crutchfield would holiday with her family, Crutchfield has come into her own with a raw series of songs that confirm her place as a new voice for women in punk. Her music, often bare of all but her guitar, might be a far cry from the all-in three-chord standards of the genre, as are her lyrics, most about the disillusioning romantic relationships of youth (“Misery Over Dispute” and “Swan Dive” among them). But she doesn’t mince words: Cerulean Salt is an exposed, straightforward confessional.
On Waxhatchee’s first single, “Peace And Quiet,” she decries, “If I muster the strength to afflict you/I won’t feel any better at all.” On “Coast To Coast,” one of the album’s speedier anthems wrought with guitar fuzz, she cries, “We lay at night cursing our stage fright…or leading our own lives into the empty night” amid a series of joyfully ironic woo’s. Still, she never sounds resigned to the shadows of sorrow. Rather, Cerulean Salt turns its face to the sun of a hopeful future.