There are many musicians that talk of laying their soul bare. Katie Crutchfield is a songwriter who doesn't need to say it. Named after a creek near her childhood home in Alabama, the recorded output of her Waxahatchee project has been entwined in memories, hardships and relationships.
Talking about her latest album, Crutchfield revealed "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”. She may count herself as part of that directionless generation, but she comes across as anything but. Releasing three albums since 2012, the intimate bedroom recordings of American Weekend, her breakthrough Cerulean Salt and now Ivy Tripp her latest collection of songs.
She still bears the sounds of her former band P.S. Eliot, filling Ivy Tripp with irresistible and scrappy pop punk alongside the intimate singer/songwriter fare. Tracks like Under A Rock and the grungy Poison come across like a mix of Riot Grrl and The Pixies, brimming with attitude and hooks. In the album's second half tracks like piano balladry of Half Moon and Summer of Love see Crutchfield pared-down to just one instrument with her voice.
The playful, lovestruck bedroom pop of La Loose really stands out. Backed by a swinging drum machine beat and keys it's sweet enough to give you a toothache, in a good way. Air feels like a more powerful sentiment at the albums centre. A mid-tempo almost-rock-ballad, but it's done on Katie's terms. Distorted keys bolster the track's bold, soaring chorus, along with some Kim Deal style 'oohs' backing her up. Ivy Tripp's additional instruments and touches of layered vocals show a move into slightly more sophisticated productions, but it's never too distracting.
The ramshackle Pavement style riffs on the track simply titled < don't gel so well, the drum beat that rolls about like an improvised drum solo doesn't help it, though there is a charm to how it barely holds together. Bonfire closes the album it's most interesting experiment. A bare bones track marches on a steady drum beat and two chords but carries a tension in the thick, low murmurs of distortion that fill the track with before almost breaking into feedback before the track's abrupt end.
Waxahatchee sings 'You see me how I wish I was/I'm not trying to be seen' over an electric hum of keyboards on Ivy Tripp's opening track Breathless. Ivy Tripp's the songs are short and personal, the musical equivalent of diary entries as if they were made in the same moments that inspired them, and you feel they would have been written whether anyone would be listening or not.
It's easy to see something of yourself in these deeply intimate tracks but even on a surface level it's easy to like the sugary sounding scrapbook of DIY punk and emotive folk. Throughout Ivy Tripp there is an honesty that cuts through all the noise and a strength in the delivery that reveals Katie Crutchfield to be a quietly powerful songwriter.