Waxahatchee (Solo)

Waxahatchee (Solo)

Katie Crutchfield’s southern roots are undeniable. The name of her solo musical project Waxahatchee comes from a creek not far from her childhood home in Alabama and seems to represent both where she came from and where she’s going. Since leaving home, Crutchfield has drifted between New York and Philadelphia but chose to return to Alabama to write her first two albums: American Weekend, her debut filled with powerful lo-fi acoustic tracks full of lament, and Cerulean Salt, a more developed and solid narrative about growing up. Both are representations of a youthful struggle with unresolved issues and unrequited feelings.

Waxhatchee’s latest record, Ivy Tripp, drifts confidently from these previous albums and brings forth a more informed and powerful recognition of where Crutchfield has currently found herself. The lament and grieving for her youth seem to have been replaced with control and sheer self-honesty. “My life has changed a lot in the last two years, and it’s been hard for me to process my feelings other than by writing songs,” says Crutchfield. “I think a running theme [of Ivy Tripp] is steadying yourself on shaky ground and reminding yourself that you have control in situations that seem overwhelming, or just being cognizant in moments of deep confusion or sadness, and learning to really feel emotions and to grow from that.”

Recorded and engineered by Kyle Gilbride of Wherever Audio at Crutchfield’s home on New York’s Long Island—with drums recorded in the gym of a local elementary school—Ivy Tripp presents a more developed and aged version of Waxahatchee. “The title Ivy Tripp is really just a term I made up for directionless-ness, specifically of the 20-something, 30-something, 40-something of today, lacking regard for the complaisant life path of our parents and grandparents. I have thought of it like this: Cerulean Salt is a solid and Ivy Tripp is a gas.”

Crutchfield is accompanied by both Gilbride and Keith Spencer on Ivy Tripp, and the record was produced by all three of them. With the addition of more guitar work, piano, drum machines, and Crutchfield’s vocals in full bloom, we are given a record that feels more emphatic and pronounced. Ivy Tripp opens with “Breathless,” filled with only a distorted keyboard and layers of vocals, showcasing Waxahatchee’s pension for quiet, personal reflection. The record then opens up into “Under a Rock,” a quicker guitar-driven song that lays the foundation for the rest of the album, which as a whole resonates with strong, self-aware lyrics, energetic ballads, and powerfully hushed moments of solitude. Crutchfield’s voice is certainly the guiding force behind Ivy Tripp—commanding and voluminous in the rock song “Poison,” candied and pure in the frolicking “La Loose”—gripping you tightly and then softly releasing you into the wilds of emotion.

As far as her goals with Ivy Tripp, Crutchfield says, “I heard someone say that you have to be the change you want to see. I just want to be the kind of musician I want to see in the world. I want to present myself in a way that reflects that.”

Julie Byrne

Sometimes it can take years to find your calling. Not so for Julie Byrne, whose power of lyrical expression and musical nous seems inborn. Her second album, Not Even Happiness, has evolved at its own pace. It spans recollections of bustling roadside diners, the stars over the high desert, the aching weariness of change, the wildflowers of the California coast, and the irresolvable mysteries of love. Teaching herself guitar, having picked it up when her father became ill and could no longer play, Byrne also admits she can’t read music and doesn’t even listen to it all that much—her own vinyl was the first in her possession. “Without possessing the right words, I’d describe to [producer] Eric Littman (Phantom Posse) and Jake Falby (who contributed strings) the feeling I wanted a song to evoke, or I would take a shot at singing what was in my head. Though over all, their contributions to the record are entirely their own vision and their own power.” The follow-up to 2014’s critically lauded Rooms With Walls And Windows, this latest offers a bigger picture through a wider exploration of instruments and atmospherics, revealing an artist who has grown in confidence over time. Whether witnessing the Pacific Northwest for the first time (“Melting Grid”), the morning sky in the mountains of Boulder (“Natural Blue”), or a journey fragrant with rose water or reading Frank O’Hara aloud from the passenger seat during a drive through the Utah desert into the rainforest of Washington State (“The Sea As It Glides”), Not Even Happiness is Byrne’s beguiling ode to the fringes of life.

Mary Lattimore

Mary Lattimore is a harpist living in Philadelphia. She experiments with her Lyon and Healy Concert Grand harp and effects.

Her solo debut, The Withdrawing Room, was released in 2013 on Desire Path Recordings. http://experimedia.tumblr.com/post/46532399322/marylattimorestreamreview

Mary also writes harp parts for songs and recordings. She has performed and recorded with such great artists as Meg Baird, Thurston Moore, Sharon Van Etten, Jarvis Cocker, Kurt Vile, Steve Gunn, Ed Askew and Fursaxa.

Mary has been a part of soundtrack projects including the Valerie Project, Lopapeysa, a film by David Kessler set in Iceland, and the film score for Marina Abramovic: the Artist is Present, a documentary about the artist.

In March 2013, she accompanied Nick Cave’s beautiful horse soundsuits for the 100th anniversary of Grand Central Station in New York City.

Mary is a 2014 recipient of a Pew Fellowship in the Arts.

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