In the midst of an era where bigger and louder sell more records, Katie Crutchfield’s latest EP under her moniker Waxahatchee is a reminder that one doesn’t need a lot of bells and whistles to provoke and awe. With Great Thunder, the acclaimed singer-songwriter delivers one of the year’s most intimate and emotional records of the year.

Most of the tracks were written long ago, but they are given a new life. They have also been significantly stripped-back, featuring Crutchfield alone at the piano and unveiling heartbreaking tales that are filled with unspoken memories and even loss. A classic ’70s vibe emanates from “Singer’s No Star”, as Crutchfield reflects on her position in the world. She asks to anyone listening, “Will you recognize the failure in my voice before I leave?”. An unseen desperation rains on the post-apocalyptic story of “You’re Welcome” while the soothing and breathtaking soundscapes of “Chapel of Pines” provides a quiet anthem for the solitary.

Although “You Let Me With an Ocean” and “Takes So Much” are short numbers, the beautiful starkness of the instrumentation and Crutchfield’s poetic lyrics are haunting yet knee-buckling. Her words are like George Eliot but reimagined through the eyes of Edgar Allan Poe. There is a bit of sunshine on the record, as Crutchfield picks up her acoustic guitar on “Slow You Down”. Her message is slightly optimistic, revealing that even in twilight we can still chase our dreams. Or in the case of Crutchfield, there is still time to rediscover things that were once lost and reimagine them. To resurrect the past and make them sound fresh and alive.

Great Thunder was released on Merge Records. Pick it up on Bandcamp.

For the complete list of our Favorite 20 EPs of 2018, click here.

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