"Tigers Blood" by Waxahatchee Album Review by Ethan Rebalkin for Northern Transmissions


Tigers Blood


Singer-songwriter Katie Crutchfield delivers sentimental, memorable country songs on Waxahatchee’s 6th album Tigers Blood.

Hymn-like chords make way for Katie Crutchfield’s warm, southern delivery on the album opener “3 Sisters.” “It was never the love you wanted / and it’s a state of mind / you defined / you take anything that you want,” Crutchfield preaches. Her delivery is forlorn, and remorseful, yet full of wisdom. For all 4 minutes “3 Sisters” builds upon itself, building layers and layers of lush country instrumentation till its final strum.

On Tigers Blood, Crutchfield wastes no time in showing off her strong, poignant lyricism. Her lyrics utilizes an array of unique language that constantly keeps the listener engaged. “You let me fill every room / wax poetic and presume / your principles ripen into / a fragile tomb, watch it split in two,” Crutchfield sings on “Evil Spawn,” a line that is beautifully visual and lyrically dense. “Evil Spawn” is the first song on Tigers Blood to feature harmony vocals from fellow southern indie-rocker MJ Lenderman, who plays most of the electric guitar on the album. Lenderman was first only meant to play electric guitar and sing on “Right Back To It,” but was quickly invited to stay for the whole album from producer Brad Cook.

“Right Back To It,” lead single from Tigers Blood, is a laid-back, waltzy track featuring predominant banjo parts from Phil Cook, and tastefully-subdued guitar leads from Lenderman. A nod to country duets like Gram and Emmylou, Crutchfield and Lenderman’s vocals sway and wander through the song, harmonizing on the earnest chorus: “I’ve been yours for so long / We come right back to it / I let my mind run wild / Don’t know why I do it / But you just settle in / Like a song with no end.” Crutchfield says it’s the first real love song she’s ever written.

An overdriven, unison guitar lead makes way on “Bored,” mid-way rocker on Tigers Blood. “Bored” is filled to the brim with tongue-in-cheek lyricism from Crutchfield that sit between Nick Bockrath’s lush pedal steel. “Lost in a role I play / Stuck in a video game / armed with a safety pin,” Crutchfield confidently boasts, with a delivery that reminded me of Fox Confessor Brings the Flood-era Neko Case. “Lone Star Lake ” and “Crimes of the Heart” deliver country-doused portraiture. One can’t help but tie their own memories to Crutchfield’s universal sentiments.

“I left your heart of glass in my unmade bed,” Crutchfield preaches on “Crowbar.” Crutchfield’s crafts tragically fragile imagery through her lyrics on the album B-side. “My compass is an antique / but if I’m not back soon, don’t come looking for me.” Crutchfield’s has a serious knack for timeless symbolism that can only be harnessed through more than a decade of unrelenting songwriting. “The Wolves” starts as a mellow waltz then slowly unfolds into what is likely the jammiest moment on the whole album. Lenderman’s guitar leads weave methodically around Brad Cook’s pulsating bass and Spencer Tweedy’s shuffling drums. A high-energy moment that sets up the self-titled album closer impeccably.

“I held it like a penny I found / it might bring me something, it might weigh me down / you got every excuse but it’s an eerie sound / when the siren blow, rings out all over town,” group harmonies chants, right before “Tigers Blood” slowly fades out, ending the album. As much as I wish that moment could last forever, it leaves you with just enough to want to give this album another listen.

Pre-order Tigers Blood HERE.


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