Day Ninety-Nine: Summer’s for Music – Waxahatchee’s “Cerulean Salt”

by Tom Noonan

I’ve written briefly on “Rose, 1956”, the rolling, blurred polaroid from Katie Crutchfield’s living room project Waxahatchee.  Over one snowed-in weekend at her parent’s house, Crutchfield recorded her Garageband masterpiece American Weekend, the first album under her new title Waxahatchee, and then began a grassroots mixtape campaign to get the word out.  She did, and just about everyone who came into contact with American Weekend was sold.  Even with the wunderkind status that comes with that type of accomplishment, it’s her new album, and first true studio effort, Cerulean Salt, that needs to be heard.  Similar to its predecessor, Salt is a collection of fractured stories and refracted light, all of which is cleverly pieced together so that the jagged edges create a sort of momentum-building covalent bond.  Crutchfield plays with themes and imagery like an ordinary songwriter might mess around with the arrangements, allowing Salt to become more of a movie than an album, well balanced on a soundtrack just sturdy enough to hold everything up.

But what makes the album so strong is its grasp of minimalism, not in instrumentation, but in emotion.  Only two songs exceed three minutes, which lets Crutchfield come at you with gut-punches that never lament.  It’s an album that makes sense because it doesn’t fit together exactly right.  For a large portion of Salt, Crutchfield mines the schizophrenic nature of our romantic expectations to eventually draw conclusions from her own personal and lyrical might.  These aren’t polaroids; they’re vivid, pulsing memories.

Listen to “Dixie Cups and Jars” below: