Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Every album by Waxahatchee reveals a different side of Katie Crutchfield. While her most recent EP, Great Thunder, carried a somber tone, Saint Cloud represents a full embrace of the last decade of her life.
Originally from Alabama, she and her sister formed the punk band P. S. Eliot in 2007. After going separate ways, Katie took the name Waxahatchee after the creek that runs through their hometown and recorded American Weekend from her bedroom in 2012. Since then, her music has bled over into different genres and styles.
While her earlier albums reflect the lo-fi folk sounds of other artists like Bon Iver with a certain angst, Saint Cloud reveals the clear influence of her Southern roots. Saint Cloud itself is named after a city in Florida outside of Orlando. Inspired by musicians like Dolly Parton and Lucinda Williams, Crutchfield seamlessly ties together elements of country and folk with the explorations of her previous albums. In an interview with Pitchfork magazine, Crutchfield describes how she initially “rejected that type of music and my Southern identity entirely,” not realizing the impact it made on her musical career until recording this album. Waxahatchee redefines what it means to be from a region that often carries a heavy stigma.
Crutchfield struggled for years with addiction. After releasing the album Out in the Storm and beginning a relationship with fellow musician Kevin Morby in 2017, her life and career changed direction. Saint Cloud opens with the entrancing song “Oxbow,” which deals with overcoming that aspect of her past. Recovery from addiction is a recurring theme of the album, along with love and finding happiness. In the song “Fire,” she fervidly sings about finding the self-love to work through traumas of the past. With this album, Crutchfield takes a retrospective view on the struggles that marked her previous expressions.
Waxahatchee composes works of poetry that resonate on a deep emotional level. Saint Cloud provides an uplifting experience for any listener in the midst of these uncertain times.