The cover to Waxahatchee’s fifth album features an image of the singer-songwriter laid out on top of a Ford pick-up truck, flowers stacked in the cargo bed. Like the noble pickup, Saint Cloud encapsulates a romantic strand of Americana. Deploying twangy electric guitars and neatly strummed acoustics, Waxahatchee (Katie Crutchfield) moves away from the thicker indie arrangements of previous album Out in the Storm and towards a more alt-country sound.
In a genre that values songwriting precision, the Alabama artist is right at home. The upbeat Nashville stylings of Can’t Do Much are matched with lyrics full of sorrow as Crutchfield, leaning into her southern accent, reveals feelings of loneliness and unease. Even an assertion like, “Love you till the day I die” is punctuated with some melancholy: “I guess it don’t matter why.”
Crutchfield never sounds defeated, though. On closer St Cloud she finds a morbid sense of catharsis: “If the dead just go on living, well there’s nothing to fear.” Waxahatchee’s writing rewards close examination. For those not bothered to peer that closely, Saint Cloud is still a pleasing album of simple melodies and warm orchestration that’s perfect for driving to. A pick-up isn’t necessary but certainly optimal.