American Weekend

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In the midst of a blizzard in Alabama, Katie Crutchfield -- formerly of indie pop band P.S. Eliot -- penned songs for her debut solo album American Weekend, which was released under the moniker Waxahatchee. The making of the lo fi indie affair has echoes of Bon Iver's secluded, cathartic cabin recording that resulted in For Emma, Forever Ago. Here Crutchfield sheltered herself in a house at nearby namesake Waxahatchee Creek, and surrounded by snow, she laid down a collection of tracks whose stories had taken root in the previous months. The emotional fragility that takes hold of the record is the result of acute heartbreak and the dissolution of her teenage dream as P.S. Eliot wound down -- all of which culminated in the songs here. The level of intimacy that Crutchfield reveals to the listener here is at times overwhelming and not just because she is divulging such personal admissions, but because they are so easily relatable. Armed with an acoustic guitar, this album is a raw introduction to both the captivating melodies and hammering lyrics which Crutchfield is capable. Songs "Grass Stain" and "Be Good" exude her own insecurities and are littered in self-depreciation, but they do not go so far as to be self-indulgent, thanks in many ways to Crutchfield's effortlessly simple arrangements. There is also an honesty in her lyrics that offer both her former lovers, and her own shortcomings, lamenting "You set it up masterfully/and then blame it all on me" on "Michel," while later admitting "take my word for it I'm not worth it" as she avoids phone calls on "Bathtub." Crutchfield manages to console herself throughout this ordeal while maintaining her role as narrator as she guides each track through its mostly despairing subject matter in an impressive manner. However, despite the intense storytelling here, it's clear that she still craves the indie pop hooks that she wrote with P.S. Eliot, evidenced on the breezy "Be Good," and subsequently her vocal melodies provide the sweetness to brighten the otherwise downbeat tone with debilitating effect.

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