When the name Katie Crutchfield is associated with a record, it’s almost guaranteed to be fantastic. From her work with her sister Allison in PS Eliot to her four albums as Waxahatchee, Katie has been putting out some of the best music of the last seven years. 2015’s Ivy Tripp and 2013’s Cerulean Salt were instantly classics. However, Waxahatchee’s latest record, Out in the Storm, may be her best work yet. It balances on an edge between folk and punk, featuring both killer riffs and some dreamy acoustics.

Out in The Storm starts out with a ton of energy on “Never Been Wrong”.  Crutchfield’s voice shines right out of the gate. “8 Ball” is quite a bit more laid back. Built upon a simple bass line and some hand claps, Crutchfield is accompanied by dreamy harmonies and wonderfully layered guitar. The album gets its name from a line in “Silver”, which has some of the record’s most ripping guitar parts, accompanied by a dreamy harmony of “ooh”s.

With “Recite Remorse”, Out in the Storm goes through what feels like a big shift. Crutchfield’s voice is front and center over a hypnotic organ part supplied by her sister Allison (Swearin’) while other instruments join in. “Sparks Fly” is a great acoustic track over a drum track that is barely present. The result is a delightful, reflective, nostalgic track that is one of the best on the record. The next two tracks rock hard, between the riff on “Brass Beam” and the bass on “Hear You”.

Crutchfield is joined by Katie Harkin (Sleater Kinney, Sky Larkin, Flock of Dimes) on “A Little More”, a beautiful track with a sharp message. She sings “I live a little more, and I die a little more”. The penultimate track, “No Question”, sounds a bit like a band Waxahatchee recently toured with, The New Pornographers. It’s got some great guitar work, and it’s easy to mistake Crutchfield for Case here, seriously. And it’s seriously addicting between the refrains of “it never ends” and “it sets you free”.  The album closes with the gorgeous closer, “Fade”, featuring mostly just Crutchfield and guitar with a little piano sprinkled in.

Out in the Storm is truly a fantastic record and without a doubt it is solidly one of the year’s best records so far. Crutchfield’s voice will knock you out at times, and it will make you weep too. The name Out in the Storm comes from a line in “Silver”, but it definitely is a quite fitting title. Crutchfield brings the thunder on some tracks, and others it channels the beauty of a summer rain storm. Crutchfield strikes a brilliant balance between two worlds. Out in the Storm is out now on Merge Records.

Purchase/stream Out in the Storm: Merge Records, iTunes, and Spotify

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