Waxahatchee at New Century

Johnny James, Managing Editor
the artist
Image supplied by Leeds Inspired

Waxahatchee at New Century, Manchester 27 July 2024 Tickets from £29 — Book now

Mercurial singer-songwriter Katie Crutchfield AKA Waxahatchee performs at New Century in support of her new album Tigers Blood – a meeting place for folk, Americana and country.

Crutchfield grew up in Alabama, near Waxahatchee Creek, cutting her teeth in her hometown’s chaotic punk scene, before finding a new home in Philadelphia’s unpretentious DIY community. In 2012, she released her home-recorded debut album American Weekend – about as minimal a folk record as is possible, but the brilliant songwriting was more piercing for it. She plugged things in for follow-ups Cerulean Salt and Ivy Tripp, coating her narcotised, poet-punkish folk songs in the burnt sugar of 1990s alt-pop. Fans of PJ Harvey and Hole will enjoy digging into this era of her catalogue.

But fast forward to 2020 and something different comes along in the form of Saint Cloud. Something dreamier, lusher, and channelling the alt country-inflections of Gillian Welsh and David Rawlings. All lilacs and creek beds, Memphis skylines and Manhattan subways, love and newfound sobriety, Saint Cloud became a balm in the turbulent times of Covid, its irresistible songwriting reaching a new audience.

That same audience is gifted again with Tigers Blood, which seals the deal of Saint Cloud by leaning into its poppier instincts, while also dialling up its Southern rock element, taking cues from the likes of Drive-By Truckers and Lucinda Williams. If Saint Cloud was Crutchfield’s attempt to find peace in the present, then Tigers Blood is a celebration of her success.

Not that there isn’t a hearty dose of turmoil laced through the songs (take ‘Evil Spawn’ and its dissection of a co-dependent relationship fated to fail) – it’s just that a centring vision of clarity overrides it, reinforced by Brad Cook’s soft and honeyed production. This is perhaps typified by the lead single, ‘Right Back To It’, on which MJ Lenderman, Southern indie-rock wunderkind, adds gorgeous harmonies. Its verses veer towards old habits (“If I swerve in and out of my lane/ Burning up an old flame/ Turn a jealous eye”) but the snap-out-of-it chorus gets, well, “Right Back To It”, focussing not on the indiscretions of her past, but on the victories of her present.

And she’ll be doing the same as she heads out on her biggest tour to date, a lot of which has sold out. But Manchester hasn’t. Yet.

Waxahatchee at New Century, Manchester 27 July 2024 Tickets from £29 Book now

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