Rolling Stone's The 50 Best Albums of 2020 - Rated 7/50!
Consequence of Sound's Top 50 Albums Of 2020 - Rated 6/50!
NPR's The 50 Best Albums Of 2020 - Rated 47/50!
Paste's The 50 Best Albums Of 2020 - Rated 2/50!
Waxhatchee's Saint Cloud is an unflinching self-examination whose raw, exposed narrative terrain is aided by a shift in sonic arrangements. While her last two records (Out In The Storm and Ivy Tripp) featured the kind of big guitars, well-honed noise and battering sounds that characterized her Philadelphia scene and strongly influenced a burgeoning new class of singer-songwriters, Saint Cloud strips back those layers to create space for Katie Crutchfield's voice and lyrics.
Over the course of Saint Cloud's 11 songs, which were recorded and produced by Brad Cook (Bon Iver), Crutchfield peels back the distortion of electric guitars to create a wider sonic palette than on any previous Waxahatchee album. It is a record filled with nods to classic country folk-inspired tones and distinctly modern touches. The result is a classic Americana sound befitting an artist who has emerged as one of the signature storytellers of her time.
One must assume that with sobriety comes a sense of clarity. But for Crutchfield it wasn't an immediate discovery. At first, her writing initially felt blurred. But for this reason, the songs feel all the more tender, as if each line was delicately molded into place. It's Saint Cloud's genuine storytelling about traveling across the world and making repeated mistakes that allows you to easily view all the crosses she's removed, reexamined, and replaced. It's soft and sunny, without being deceitfully utopian. But more importantly, it's a replanting of Crutchfield's roots. She's removed all the weeds and decided to let herself bloom. With a folksy, gentle backbeat, Saint Cloud becomes the soundtrack for new beginnings.
In some ways, it possesses little pieces of all the musical lives Crutchfield has lived before: punk-y vocals à la her once-upon-a-time rock band with Allison, P.S. Eliot; searing, Dylan-esque vocal delivery; chiming guitars straight off Out in the Storm; pastoral folk not unlike that of her 2018 EP Great Thunder. The songwriting remains impeccable. Within 10 seconds, you know - without a doubt - it's a Waxahatchee album. Yet it's different from anything she's ever released before... Saint Cloud is a whole new world.
The collection of 11 songs isn't really rock, Americana or country. But it's arresting, as Crutchfield's voice sets scenes filled with lilacs in full bloom, fiery West Memphis sunsets and car wheels on Arkadelphia Road.
On Saint Cloud, singer-songwriter Katie Crutchfield delved into her Alabama roots to create a stripped-back Americana sound, drawing on influences like Lucinda Williams and Emmylou Harris. (Just look at the album cover of Crutchfield perched on a pickup truck with red roses in its bed, and you'll get the idea.) Newly sober, Crutchfield's songwriting is pure and hits you like a gut punch - whether she's likening love to honey on a spoon ('Can't Do Much') or reflecting on picked flowers in a Topo Chico bottle ('Lilacs'). Released the month the pandemic was declared a national emergency, it's the kind of country comfort we didn't know wed need so badly.
- Black Vinyl LP
- Heavyweight inner sleeve with lyrics
- Single jacket
- 24"x36" full-color poster
- Limited time digital download card
- Can't Do Much
- The Eye
- Ruby Falls
- St. Cloud