Out in the Storm
exhibits complex emotionality expressed in a paradoxically concise and direct manner. That directness is a result of simplicity: Out in the Storm
is fuelled by steady rhythms, straightforward chord progressions and pop songwriting structures. The album’s emotional content, on the other hand, is much harder to pin down.
Its songs are not simply “happy” or “sad”, but filled simultaneously with warm tones and harrowing melancholy. Perhaps this dichotomy emanates from Crutchfield’s experience of recalling the deteriorating relationship that is the subject of the album from the vantage point of the present. With the particularly acrimonious breakup described in her lyrics now far behind her, Crutchfield does not evoke the past with only the misery that lies there. Gorgeous melodies float through the hazy atmosphere created by reverberating instrumentation; something beautiful dances in the fog of Crutchfield’s memory.
There’s a light on Out in the Storm
that never goes out. I imagine it as Crutchfield herself, a tourist in the recollections of her own past who carries knowledge of not only how the story ends, but how it goes on. In the current of optimism that runs through the album, I hear the positivity that follows anguish, and the strength that follows recovery. Crutchfield has moved on from the period of heartbreak detailed on Out in the Storm
, and although that is where the album’s narrative takes place, its spirit is that of a healed soul.
Narrative and spirit, brightness and despair, and past and present are all essential aspects of Out in the Storm
, bound inseparably in the unique moment of reflection that gave rise to the album. Crutchfield accepts it all, and bears the overwhelming whirlwind of feelings close to her heart in crafting Out in the Storm
: a penetrating, beautifully bittersweet, utterly human artistic achievement; Waxahatchee’s best record since American Weekend
. Listen closely, and you can hear its beating heart amidst a storm of sound.