On her second full-length record as Waxahatchee, former P.S. Eliot singer Katie Crutchfield’s compelling
hyper-personal poetry is continuously crushing. Cerulean Salt follows last January’s American Weekend -
- a collection of minimal acoustic-guitar pop written and recorded in a week at her family’s Birmingham
On this new record, Crutchfield’s songs continue to be marked by her sharp, hooky songwriting; her
striking voice and lyrics that simultaneously seem hyper-personal yet relentlessly relatable, teetering
between endearingly nostaglic and depressingly dark. But whereas before the thematic focus of her
songcraft was on break ups and passive-aggressive crushing, this record reflects on her family and
Alabama upbringing. And whereas American Weekend was mostly just Crutchfield and her guitar,
Cerulean Salt is occassionally amped up, with a full band and higher-fi production.
At times, Cerulean Salt creeps closer to the sound of PS Eliot: moody, 90s-inspired rock backed by Keith
Spencer and Swearin’ guitarist Kyle Gilbridge on drums and bass. The full band means fleshed-out fuzzy
lead guitars on “Coast to Coast”, its poppy hook almost masking its dark lyrics. Big distorted guitars and
deep steady drums mark songs like “Misery over Dispute” and “Waiting”.
There’s plenty of American Weekend‘s instrospection and minimalism to be found, though. “Blue
Pt. II” is stripped down, Crutchfield and her sister Alison (of Swearin’) singing in harmony with
deadpan vox. She’s still an open booking, musing on self-doubt versus self-reliance, transience
versus permanence. “Peace and Quiet” ebbs and flows from moody, minimal verses to a sing-song
chorus. “Swan Dive” tackles nostalgia, transience, indifference, regret — over the a minimal strum of
an electric-guitar, the picking at a chirpy riff and the double-time tapping of a muted drum. The album
closes with a haunting acoustic-guitar reflection on “You’re Damaged,” possibly the best Waxahatchee
song to date.