Waxahatchee & Kevin Morby with Mary Lattimore
Waxahatchee & Kevin Morby with Mary Lattimore
Katie Crutchfield’s southern roots are undeniable. The name of her solo musical project Waxahatchee comes from a creek not far from her childhood home in Alabama and seems to represent both where she came from and where she’s going. Since leaving home, Crutchfield has drifted between New York and Philadelphia but chose to return to Alabama to write her first two albums: American Weekend, her debut filled with powerful lo-fi acoustic tracks full of lament, and Cerulean Salt, a more developed and solid narrative about growing up. Both are representations of a youthful struggle with unresolved issues and unrequited feelings.
Waxhatchee’s latest record, Ivy Tripp, drifts confidently from these previous albums and brings forth a more informed and powerful recognition of where Crutchfield has currently found herself. The lament and grieving for her youth seem to have been replaced with control and sheer self-honesty. “My life has changed a lot in the last two years, and it’s been hard for me to process my feelings other than by writing songs,” says Crutchfield. “I think a running theme [of Ivy Tripp] is steadying yourself on shaky ground and reminding yourself that you have control in situations that seem overwhelming, or just being cognizant in moments of deep confusion or sadness, and learning to really feel emotions and to grow from that.”
Recorded and engineered by Kyle Gilbride of Wherever Audio at Crutchfield’s home on New York’s Long Island—with drums recorded in the gym of a local elementary school—Ivy Tripp presents a more developed and aged version of Waxahatchee. “The title Ivy Tripp is really just a term I made up for directionless-ness, specifically of the 20-something, 30-something, 40-something of today, lacking regard for the complaisant life path of our parents and grandparents. I have thought of it like this: Cerulean Salt is a solid and Ivy Tripp is a gas.”
Crutchfield is accompanied by both Gilbride and Keith Spencer on Ivy Tripp, and the record was produced by all three of them. With the addition of more guitar work, piano, drum machines, and Crutchfield’s vocals in full bloom, we are given a record that feels more emphatic and pronounced. Ivy Tripp opens with “Breathless,” filled with only a distorted keyboard and layers of vocals, showcasing Waxahatchee’s pension for quiet, personal reflection. The record then opens up into “Under a Rock,” a quicker guitar-driven song that lays the foundation for the rest of the album, which as a whole resonates with strong, self-aware lyrics, energetic ballads, and powerfully hushed moments of solitude. Crutchfield’s voice is certainly the guiding force behind Ivy Tripp—commanding and voluminous in the rock song “Poison,” candied and pure in the frolicking “La Loose”—gripping you tightly and then softly releasing you into the wilds of emotion.
As far as her goals with Ivy Tripp, Crutchfield says, “I heard someone say that you have to be the change you want to see. I just want to be the kind of musician I want to see in the world. I want to present myself in a way that reflects that.”
Kevin Morby is an American musician, singer and songwriter. Formerly known as the bass guitarist of the folk rock band Woods and as the frontman of The Babies, Morby began a solo career in 2013, releasing his debut album, Harlem River, in 2013 to positive reviews. His second album, Still Life, was released the following year. A third album, entitled Singing Saw, was released in 2016 to widespread critical acclaim.
Throughout her collections of improvisations, Mary Lattimore translates memory into music using her 47-string Lyon & Healy harp.
Lattimore started learning the harp at age 11. "The harp is an instrument that reveals more mystery and potential the more you get to know it," she explains. "You're sort of hugging it when you play it, so it's very intimate and personal. The vibrations are right there up close to your heart, physically."
Collaborations with musicians including Kurt Vile, Meg Baird, and Thurston Moore, helped hone her ear and develop a part-writing style. In 2014, she released a collaborative album in with synth player and producer Jeff Zeigler on Thrill Jockey and played with Fursaxa and cellist Helena Espvall, whose "otherworldly concoctions" of loops and layers proved a formative influence.
In 2014 Lattimore received a prestigious fellowship from the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage — a rare honor given to 12 people every year — and used the funds to take a road trip across America with a friend, writing and recording songs at each stop along the way. With her harp and laptop, Lattimore drew inspiration from each location, letting the environments in which she recorded color her work. The result is evocative, delicate and haunting music, Lattimore's harp at times bright and skipping, other times distant and hazy, swathed in gauzy delay.
She recorded much of At the Dam in the beautiful setting of Joshua Tree. "I would wheel the harp out on to the porch of my friend Chiara's little house and I had the whole desert around me. It felt like a residency on another planet." Lattimore also recorded in Marfa, Texas at a friends home, as well as in the mountains of Altadena, east of LA.
Recording far away from her Philadelphia home gave Lattimore space to navigate her thoughts. The stirring, slightly ominous opener "Otis Walks Into the Woods" attempts to encapsulate her reaction to the news that her family's blind dog had walked into the forest on the outskirts of their farm to pass away – a gently hypnotic ode to a noble companion. "Jimmy V" recalls another fallen hero, basketball coach Jimmy Valvano. "Before taking the road trip, I'd seen a great documentary on him, a really interesting and complex, inspiring character, and thought I'd write a song with him in mind," Mary says, "Maybe it's the first harp song written about a basketball coach?" On "Jaxine Drive," a guitar sighs, low and sorrowful beneath Lattimore's hopeful-sounding harp, while "Ferris Wheel, January" imagines one looking at the Pacific Ocean from high elevation and the patterns of the waves creating an illusion resembling the bright lights of the Santa Monica Pier in winter. It's a travel diary," explains Lattimore, "A chunk of my life that I attempted to wrangle into a recorded language that feels familiar but not too precious."
At The Dam is named for a Joan Didion essay about the Hoover Dam: "its enchanting, grandiose practicality, how it will keep operating in its own solitude, even when humans aren't around." Drawing inspiration from these ideas and treating each memory thoughtfully and sensitively, Lattimore captures transient moments as time moves inexorably forward.