Philly punk scene alumnus and Waxahatchee mastermind Katie Crutchfield perfected the art of emotionally raw, heart-on-her-sleeve songwriting on 2012's American Weekend and 2013's Cerulean Salt, then polished up her delightfully ramshackle lo-fi sound with a bit of grunge-pop sheen on last year's Ivy Tripp. Now, Crutchfield's first forays into music with the project have been captured on new compilation Early Recordings.
The five endearingly under-produced tracks that appear on the EP are no less affecting than any that made the cut for Waxahatchee's prior releases. She weaves heart-piercing lyrics and scrappy guitar chords together with chaotic charm and alarmingly astute observations, punching listeners in the gut with blistering lines like "Weak knees, fuck your sympathy / I'll be my own best friend," which opens "Sister Saint." That disdain hasn't dissipated by the time she sneers, "You blow smoke, you sugar-coat, then you take a front row seat."
"Home Game" is another treasure amidst the recently unearthed trove of songs, painting a vivid but sad picture of small-town high school love, sung by a young woman seemingly already nostalgic for youth.
Early Recordings is an insightful glimpse into the greener days of Crutchfield's songwriting career, letting listeners in as she transforms personal reveries into refreshingly honest punk rock poetry. With the early examples laid out on this set of songs, it's hardly surprising that she's blossomed into the poignant songsmith she is now. (Merge)