There are typically several times in a year when a record comes out that you just know it is good from the first track. Really good! That is exactly the feeling I experienced with Waxahatchee’s fifth record Saint Cloud.
“Oxford” is the lead track and in the first several lines of the song Katie Crutchfield sings “What dreams become concrete, they may feel trite. Makes a dull mind.” This line challenges your ideas about Saint Cloud from the beginning. The song has a sweeping sound to it that keeps ramping up like its going to take off but holds itself under restraint. It is a gorgeous track that reminded me more of an Angel Olsen type structure but is the perfect setup because you can’t exactly describe it and you are not really sure where Crutchfield is taking you next.
Waxahatchee’s last two records were more noisy with stand out guitars, and a grittier indie edge so when the second track starts, “Can’t Do Much”, you might be surprised to hear the stripped down Americana sound that is completely driven by Crutchfield’s voice. It is flawless. Song after song, she tells her story and creates a catchy blend of music with well timed harmonies, pure emotion and grade A musicianship.
Sometimes the best music comes from experience. Saint Cloud is no different, as the songs here have some of the most hopeful lyrics to overcome addiction and codependency. Katie Crutchfield and Waxahatchee have clearly come out the other side of her internal struggles with a fresh perspective and an album that already sounds like a timeless classic. Without a doubt, Saint Cloud will do very well on 2020’s best of list and it deserves every accolade it will receive.
-Reviewed by Thomas Wilde