Album: Ivy Tripp
About: 13 songs; 38 Minutes
Choice: Deliberate Obfuscation
Waxahatchee is the name of a creek in Alabama. Katie Crutchfield grew up near that creek and chose its name for the name of her band. “Band” is a little vague when it comes to the music of Waxahatchee. The music is mostly her voice with other sounds layered onto it. It makes for more interesting listening than would be the case if she just relied on her pretty voice and moody, reflective lyrics. This is a quick 38 minute album that features 13 bursts of musical creativity.
Many of the songs of Ivy Tripp have a do-it-yourself vibe that I loved. Summer of Love sounds like she is approaching that creek, swollen by rains, and racing by. She plops her recorder down on a rock while a dog barks nearby. She picks up her guitar and sings a melancholy song to a picture of her and a summer love. This is just one example how other sounds make the raspy sweetness of her voice more. On this one, the listener can imagine the scene – and wonder whose dog that is.
Stale by Noon is another single instrument song – this time a keyboard. On this one, she echos her own lyrics while an nursery rhyme songlike notes follow along. Again, on this one, the lyrics reflect loss and trying to figure things out – I could stop praying for everybody; I’m wasting my time. I’ll read your philosophy and get a new lease on life.”
Most of the other songs are denser than these two. My favorite of the album is Air which combines electric guitar and a cymbal/drum line that fits well with the mood of the song. Here her voice lifts and almost cries out “you were patiently giving me everything that I will never need.”
When she brings in the electric guitars and drumline, her voice can take on an edge that make you think that you don’t want to be on the wrong side of her. On a song like Under a Rock she almost snarls,
Your ravenous, insatiable
Appetite for the expendable
Will leave you just as hollow as your requiem
I like what Katie does throughout this album, and for me it works well. Dan, however, finds what she is doing on some of her songs sloppy and amateur. I disagree with him, but I understand where one could think that. Dan does see the talent here, however. For me, I like that there is something new to listen for in each track. It could be that the experimentation that she brings may not be to everyone’s liking, but no one can say all of her stuff sounds alike. Opening the album with a song that has dirge-y organ chords that rattle through its entirety is pretty bold. That low hum makes the song uncomfortable, but the lyrics are uncomfortable too – You take what you want / you wear it out / I’m not trying to be a rose / You see me how / I wish I was / But I’m not trying to be seen.
Ivy Tripp is a tour through Katie Crutchfield’s creative soul that can at times be lovely and melodic and at other times be discordant and bitter – and for me, that makes for a great and interesting listen.
Next up: Second Hand Heart by Dwight Yokum