Katie Crutchfield's Waxahatchee project has evolved significantly since its inception, and Out in the Storm marks the furthest departure so far from her solo, lo-fi 2012 debut American Weekend. The followup to 2015's pop-leaning Ivy Tripp, Out in the Storm hears Crutchfield unleashing her first effort recorded in a proper studio, with a full band and under the guidance of producer John Agnello. Unsurprisingly, the results are some of Crutchfield's biggest rock'n'roll anthems yet.
The LP roars out of the gate with "Never Been Wrong," an unfiltered examination of the fault on both sides of a failing relationship, compressed into a perfectly paced garage rock jam. The guitars ricochet off a grunge-y bass line and steadily pounding drums, letting listeners instantly reap the rewards of the full-band set-up.
Elsewhere, "8 Ball" injects some unexpected twang to match Crutchfield's subdued Alabama drawl, as she documents her own post-breakup spiral, while "Hear You" is driven by a too-often-quieted frustration and "No Question" delves into fuzzed-out, psychedelic territory without ever losing its bite.
But there are still plenty of gentle, tender moments propelled by acoustic guitar, whispered falsetto and gut-wrenching lyrical honesty throughout Out in the Storm. "Recite Remorse," "Sparks Fly" and "A Little More" stand as fragile reminders of Crutchfield's pure poetic songwriting talent, which is driven home once more with acoustic closer "Fade."
"I stayed out of your way," she coos, but as the song brings the record to an end, it's clear that Crutchfield is ready to be heard. (Merge)