Tag Archives: Allison Crutchfield

Waxahatchee: The Journeywoman Becomes The Master


Photo by Jesse Riggins.

Before we arrive at the West Philadelphia home of Katie Crutchfield, aka Waxahatchee, her twin sister and musician Allison Crutchfield (who is driving me), takes a detour down a tree-lined street three minutes from Katie’s rowhouse. She points to a modest, time-worn Victorian—the twins’ one-time residence which doubled as a recording space for Waxahatchee, Swearin’ (Allison’s former band), and other music projects. “All of those albums were made right there,” she says proudly, letting the memories hover.

Once we settle in, Katie and I sit across from each other on a couch in the front room: a small, cozy space flanked by bookshelves and guitars (including the acoustic she strummed as a kid). No matter which direction you look, you’ll spot something eye-catching: a gallery’s worth of paintings and cross-stitches on the walls, nearly all of which depict dogs; Beatles posters on all the doors (John Lennon watches over the main entrance, while George Harrison guards the artist’s room); a keyboard over in the corner, just in case an idea pops up.

Just like Waxahatchee’s music, Katie’s décor tells a story: a nebulous, intense, and unabashedly intimate narrative, which taps into her personal past as a means of expressing the present, or even the future. Her heart-wrenching breakup songs represent moments suspended in time, close to the heart, but kept at arm’s length. Given the tortured, quaking voice through which she conjures her old pain onstage, it’s no surprise that some fans and critics remain oblivious to this conceit. Importantly, it establishes distance between the woman named Katie Crutchfield and the artist known as Waxahatchee.

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Allison Crutchfield: The Introspective “Tourist”

Allison Crutchfield

Allison Crutchfield by Jesse Riggins

It’s not uncommon to read that an artist struggled through “major life changes” while crafting a record; If nothing else, it makes for easy press release copy. For Allison Crutchfield, this is far more personal and less cynical—for her first LP, Tourist In This Town, she’s channeled growing up into cathartic, sonic autobiography. During pangs of homesickness on tour, Crutchfield processed a serious breakup and its attendant pain and confusion, figuring out what she wanted her voice to be at this point in time.

Tourist builds on the introspective synth-pop of Crutchfield’s 2014 debut solo EP Lean Into It; while the emotions that shaped it are painful, Tourist is anything but dour. Utilizing an arsenal of analog synths provided by engineer Jeff Ziegler (known for his work with Kurt Vile), Crutchfield embraces open space and an aesthetic sense of promise. Album opener “Broad Daylight” finds Crutchfield going a cappella, a daring choice for the former firebrand behind punk outfits P.S. Eliot and Bad Banana (her bands with her twin sister Katie, of Waxahatchee).

That stripped-naked opening not only pays off, but feels like baptism by choir. At 28, after nearly a decade of emotional tumult, Crutchfield is finally enjoying a moment of rare inner peace.

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