Waxahatchee Is Fierce On ‘Tigers Blood’

Waxahatchee - Katie Crutchfield - by Molly Matalon

Katie Crutchfield is never known to hold back as the leader of Waxahatchee, one of the most appealing aspects of the singer-songwriter’s music.

“If you’re not living, then you’rе dying, just a raw nerve satisfying, some futilе bottom line, all my life, I’ve been running from what you want,” she sings on the opening track “3 Sisters” from her latest album “Tigers Blood.”

The seventh Waxahatchee album, released Friday, March 22, via Anti- records, follows her 2020 album “Saint Cloud” and her debut as Plains with Jess Williamson with the standout album “I Walked With You A Ways.

Waxahatchee - Tigers Blood

Throughout the 12 tracks, Crutchfield litters her lyrics with pithy lines of poetry that she gives away like a gardener who has an abundance of tomatoes. On the opening track, she questions, “Am I your moat or your drawbridge?” as she declares, “It’s a state of mind you defined. You take anything that you want.”

She continues that defiant energy on the spritely rock track “Evil Spawn.” She sings, “But there ain’t nothing to it, babe, we can roll around in the disarray, in the final act of the good old days.”

On the track, you hear the harmonization by MJ Lenderman, who joins Crutchfield on “Tigers Blood” with his guitar and vocals, banjo player Phil Cook, and drummer Spencer Tweedy. The album was written in 2022 and was produced by Brad Cook, who worked on “Saint Cloud,” and recorded at Sonic Ranch in Tornillo, Texas.

Lenderman’s voice and Phil Cook’s banjo both come through strongly on the lead love song “Right Back To It.

“I wrote it backstage at Wolf Trap when I was on tour opening for Jason Isbell and Sheryl Crow,” Crutchfield said of the song in a release. “I’m really interested in writing love songs that are gritty and unromantic. I wanted to make a song about the ebb and flow of a longtime love story. I thought it might feel untraditional but a little more in alignment with my experience to write about feeling insecure or foiled in some way internally, but always finding your way back to a newness or an intimacy with the same person.”

The Lederman-Crutchfield combination gels throughout the album in a way that sounds like the two Texans grew up playing together. I can’t help but get lost in their kindship as they share the chorus for “Burns Out At Midnight.”

“We go another round, I got nothing to say
It don’t make a difference
Might be good on my own, but I ain’t running away
I wanna chase it to the end
When I’m seeing a vision”
“Burns Out At Midnight,” Waxahatchee

I love how Waxatchee can switch gears between tracks while remaining so authentic. Between the two country music twinged tracks is a barn-burning punk rock song “Bored.”

“I wrote ‘Bored’ in the wake of a friendship that ended badly and I was pretty shattered by it. I learned a lot from how the whole thing played out,” Crutchfield said in a release.

It’s hard not to hit repeat on tracks like “Crimes Of The Heart,” when I hear lines like “Darkness you can befriend, it comes from within” sung with such sweetness.

“Maybe it’s easier to be afraid
Drenched in tragedy, man-made, and my
Compass is an antique
But if I’m not back soon
Don’t come looking for me”
-“Crowbar,” Waxahatchee

On “365,” Crutchfield separates herself from her former addition for the short but powerful track that is overpowered by her voice. She treats her addiction like a good friend who keeps getting her into trouble—”We defy gravity again, somehow make it out unharmed, and I have my thoughts about it, but I carry you in my arms, anyway.”

Curiously, the title track is the final of the dozen, each shining a little brighter than the previous. The deeply southern track where she drops the song and album title: “You’re laughing and smiling, drove my Jeep through the mud, and your teeth and your tongue bright red from tiger’s blood.” It closes with a group vocal that sent chills up my spine.

At nearly 43 minutes, there just isn’t enough “Tigers Blood” to satisfy this listener’s thirst. The album captures the beauty and elegance of Waxahatchee and the brilliance of Katie Crutchfield.

See Waxahatchee with Good Morning April 27 at the Brooklyn Paramount Theatre in Brooklyn, New York, April 28 at The National in Richmond, Virginia, solo on Aug. 28 at the Beacon Theatre in – New York City, with Snail Mail and Tim Heidecker Aug, 31 at Arrowood Farms in Accord, New york, Sept. 1 on the Stone Pony Summerstage in Asbury Park, New Jersey,  Sept. 6 at  –Filene Center – Wolf Trap in Vienna, Virginia, with Tim Heidecker and Gladie Sept. 7 at The Fillmore in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and with Snail Mail and Greg Mendez Sept. 8 at The Fillmore in Philadelphia.

Get “Tigers Blood” from Waxahatchee, Bandcamp, Anti- records, Amazon, Apple Music, YouTube Music, Spotify, Tidal, Pandora, Deezer and qobuz.

Favorite Tracks

3 Sisters
Evil Spawn
Right Back To It
Burns Out At Midnight
Crimes Of The Heart