Katie Crutchfield aka Waxahatchee (‘Out In The Storm’ cover photo Daniel Shea)



Contributor: Wayne Jessup

Having passed the 10th anniversary of Waxahatchee’s debut American Weekend this past year, it seems a good time to recap the journey that has seen Katie Crutchfield rise over the course of five albums to become one of America’s finest songwriters. From Birmingham, Alabama, Katie, along with her twin sister Allison, (a recurring character in this saga, both in songs and as a periodic band member), found a home in the local DIY scene, parlaying the experiences into their first outfit: P.S. Eliot. After the demise of that band and following a heavy breakup, Katie regrouped back home, alone on the banks of the Waxahatchee Creek, and that’s where our story begins. Recorded on her own, American Weekend’s sonic warts are there for all to see, but the remarkable collection of songs had a spirit and life of its own, akin to Lucinda Williams self-titled LP for Rough Trade. A declaration of independence in every sense, it set a template for all to come, and was picked up by New Jersey label Don Giovanni Records.

Playing shows provided immediate feedback as a small snowball of critical attention started gaining mass. Broadening her scope on the follow up breakthrough Cerulean Salt, Waxahatchee became a band and over the next few years, played in every configuration: solo, duo, trio, quartet, and quintet, with the only assurances being the name and the presence of Crutchfield. 2015 found Waxahatchee on the move to Merge Records for third LP Ivy Tripp, where she’s remained ever since. Fourth LP Out In The Storm (2017) is the darkest point of the journey, and after some life changes, 2020’s Saint Cloud finds her in a happy and confident place, at the top of her game.


American WeekendAmerican Weekend
BathtubAmerican Weekend
Coast to CoastCerulean Salt
Swan DiveCerulean Salt
Under A RockIvy Tripp
<Ivy Tripp
Sparks FlyOut In The Storm
FadeOut In The Storm
Can’t Do MuchSaint Cloud
Ruby FallsSaint Cloud


Waxahatchee playlist


The title track of American Weekend gets us rolling, tapping into an intense southern humidity, and thematically setting the stage for everything to come. Bathtub finds her at her most exposed, and remains a live staple. Cerulean Salt is sonically a quantum leap forward, and Coast To Coast embraces a band sound with a perfect, sub-2 minute slice of goodness. Swan Dive showcases a growing subtlety, while still drilling down to the emotional core of the song.

Setting out her shingle with Merge Records, Ivy Tripp finds an increasing complexity to her work, pushing the extremes on both Under A Rock and <. The aptly titled follow up Out In The Storm, as mentioned above, points to a coming reckoning. Sparks Fly and Fade at once both harken back to American Weekend, and showcase the growth since.

2020’s Saint Cloud finds her emerge from a dark corner, embracing life changes and a sonic inspiration from tour mates Bonny Doon to unlock a brand new stage on Can’t Do Much, and on the stunning coda to Ruby Falls, draws a line under the whole epic journey so far. As a testimony to community, the real Waxahatchee was the friends we made along the way.

An estimable catalogue for just ten years, and that doesn’t cover side projects, (Great Thunder, a P.S. Eliot reunion tour), that speak to an impeccable work ethic. With no signs of slowing down since the last Waxahatchee release, she’s gone on to spread her wings further: a single with Wynonna Judd, the El Deafo soundtrack (Apple TV show), and a brand new project: Plains, a duo with Jess Williamson. Whatever Katie Crutchfield does next, the one thing we can be assured of, from the journey so far, is that it’s whatever the hell she wants to do.







Waxahatchee official website

Waxahatchee bandcamp

Waxahatchee on Merge Records

Waxahatchee at Domino Publishing

Live at the Haunt, Ithaca, NY 2015

Live at Stubbs, Austin, Tx (SXSW 2013)

Waxahatchee/Allison Crutchfield: What’s In My Bag
Record shopping with the Crutchfields, courtesy of Amoeba Music

Live at Bonaroo, 2016 (mislabeled as NOS Primavera, 2018)
Quartet that features twin sister Allison

Live at KEXP, Seattle (9/2021)
Backed by Bonny Doon, includes a great interview with Cheryl Waters

This Toppermost playlist on Apple Music

Waxahatchee biography (AllMusic)

Wayne Jessup (@waj1) can be found at The Owl Mag and Burned All My Notebooks. He has written on Archers of Loaf, The Dream Syndicate, Mission of Burma, Fugazi, Spoon, Jawbox, Lucinda Williams, Afghan Whigs for this site.

TopperPost #1,055

1 Comment

  1. Glenn Smith
    Jan 21, 2023

    Thanks for this Wayne, I’d never hear of her (and her sister?). I really like St Cloud, Fire and Lilacs are great songs. I like American Weekend, but I think also she’s nicely matured as a writer by I Walked with You A Ways the album (and another beautiful song). And her cover of Streets of Philadelphia is quite brilliant. Thanks for this great intro to a fine artist.

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