Published Jan 25, 2017Allison Crutchfield has played with her twin sister Katie in the Ackleys, P.S. Eliot and Bad Banana, and branched out from the family as a founding member of Swearin', but her solo full-length debut, Tourist in This Town, is by far her most profound and personal musical statement yet.
Throughout the record, Crutchfield adeptly weaves deeply confessional lyrics with lighter, luminous synth-pop sounds, building on the foundations laid by 2014's Lean in to It EP.
Moments of haunting fragility are balanced by genuine brightness starting on standout opener "Broad Daylight," which goes from an a cappella intro into an exhilarating mix of shimmering synths, guitars, crashing percussion and Crutchfield's honest, expressive voice.
"I Don't Ever Want to Leave California" and "Dean's Room," meanwhile, are bona fide bedroom dance party-starters that hear Crutchfield grappling with "confusing love and nostalgia" and dancing with "the devil in broad daylight" (the devil, in this case, being a grovelling ex begging for forgiveness).
Her folksier side comes out on "Charlie," an intimate reflection on a past relationship that starts out on plucky acoustic guitar before synths slowly snake their way in. As Crutchfield's echoing vocal layers pile on, they better complement the hazy nostalgic feeling of the words spilling from her mouth.
It's a synth and keyboard-driven record, even if the electronics serve more as accents on moments of straightforward indie rock such as "Expatriate" (also a defiant declaration of self-acceptance and love) and "The Marriage" (a frantic, minute-long song detailing the dissolution of a flickering and fading relationship between "the very best of friends").
Sprinkled with nostalgic nods to classic albums (Blue, Nebraska), places both distant (Porto, California, Paris, Berlin) and at home in Philadelphia and people, Tourist in This Town is brought full-circle by the whimsical and wistful closer "Chopsticks on Pots and Pans," in which Crutchfield readily admits, "I'm still tragically sentimental."
She's turned that feeling into an album as glittery as it is gut-wrenching, making Tourist in This Town a point on the musical map that's well worth a long, enriching stay. (Merge)