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Katie Crutchfield releases her latest record under the moniker Waxahatchee


The Alabama-born singer-songwriter Katie Crutchfield released her last record under the moniker Waxahatchee in March of 2020, just days after the pandemic changed the world for many listeners. That album, titled "Saint Cloud," captured perfectly the moment when everything suddenly stopped.


WAXAHATCHEE: (Singing) I sit at my piano, wander the wild whereby. And the lilacs drank the water, and the lilacs die. And the lilacs drank the water, marking the slow, slow, slow passing of time.

FADEL: Four years later, there's a new Waxahatchee album. It's called "Tigers Blood," and for music critic Will Hermes, it seems like Crutchfield is again speaking to the moment.


WILL HERMES, BYLINE: Waxahatchee songs can suggest a lot of things, but they often remind me to calm down, take a breath - a useful reminder in these stressful hair-trigger times. Sometimes that message is in the tempo or in Katie Crutchfield's laid-back Alabama phrasing. But on the first single from "Tigers Blood," titled "Right Back To It," she gets more specific.


WAXAHATCHEE AND MJ LENDERMAN: (Singing) Been yours for so long, come right back to it. I let my mind run wild, I don't know why I do it. You just settle in like a song with no end. If I can keep up, we'll get right back to it.

HERMES: To judge from my social media feeds, "Right Back To It" has hit a lot of people close to home. Crutchfield considers it her first real love song, and it's about not freaking out when things get scary, about sticking together and staying the course. The harmonies are by another southern songwriter, MJ Lenderman, who Makes great records on his own and with a wonderful band called Wednesday. His guitar work is all over the Waxahatchee album, and on the song "Burns Out At Midnight," his voice again fits Crutchfield's like a well-worn glove.


WAXAHATCHEE AND MJ LENDERMAN: (Singing) I got reason to believe this whole house gave me revelation I wasn't prepared to receive. And you been called upon for the duration. You're a wrangler keeping the pace, hunting for open space.

HERMES: Katie Crutchfield has been posting backstory to some of these new songs on her Substack. There's struggle woven into many of them, but it makes the music's lightness feel honest and well-earned. And Crutchfield knows when to take comfort in her collaborators, something I've always admired in her work. You can hear that on the title track of "Tigers Blood," when the whole band joins in on the final chorus. They're singing about uncertainty but holding one another and staring it down together. That spirit informs the whole album, and I expect I'll be listening to it a lot this year.


WAXAHATCHEE: (Singing) And I held it like a penny I found. It might bring me something. It might weigh me down.

FADEL: "Tigers Blood" is the new album by Waxahatchee. Our critic, Will Hermes, is the author of the recent biography "Lou Reed: The King Of New York."


WAXAHATCHEE: (Singing) ...Rings out all over town. When that siren blows, rings out all over town. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

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