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Waxahatchee’s ‘Great Thunder’ EP Is Simple, Yet Undeniably Moving

Crutchfield brings it on this project she began in 2016.

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Waxahatchee
Great Thunder
(Merge Records)

Katie Crutchfield may be rewinding to her singer-songwriter days on her latest project.

“Great Thunder,” an EP issued under Crutchfield’s solo alias Waxahatchee, was released via Merge Records last week.

Although it is different from some of her previous work,  stripped down EP may be what fans of Crutchfield needed. Her delicate, yet powerful vocals are backed up by tranquil piano on most tracks with some finger-style guitar playing involved on others. It’s solo in a whole new way.

“Great Thunder” may remind Crutchfield’s fans of her earlier work like her album “American Weekend.” “It’s a throwback to how I started,” she explained in a Merge press release. Calming and beautiful harmonies shine through multiple tracks and “Slow You Down” even features a mini guitar solo. Between the intricate guitar work and unique introductions, such as the one in “You’re Welcome”‘ it is evident that this work was well thought out and has a greater purpose than five songs simply thrown together.

This project, worked on by Crutchfield and producer Keith Spencer, began in 2016 and was originally called “Early Recordings.” However, the tracks were revisited and remade to fit the sound she wanted to emulate now. Spencer is also a bassist and helped form this EP’s new path with Crutchfield.

Crutchfield succeeds in telling a story of heartbreak, discovery, and confusion throughout “Great Thunder.” The lyrics hold a listener’s attention and almost put them in the place she once was. In the song titled ‘Chapel of Pines,’ Crutchfield sings: “You can pretend you don’t hold back anymore/And if we sleep half the day, you could say that your luck is on its way.”

Crutchfield’s vocals display her emotional pain in a way that resonates with the listener. It may take them back to a time they wanted to forget or provide a whole different perspective on nostalgia and memories.

This EP is an example of how simple and instrumentally nuanced an artist’s work can be in order to please listeners. With intricate finger-picking and continuous chords being played on the piano, it is evident repetition is used as a tool to help tell a story.

“Great Thunder” is the ideal place to start for those who have not yet heard Crutchfield’s work. It’s calming vibe is easy to fall in love with and shows the direction she may be taking her music at this point in time. Pro-tip: Play this EP on a rainy day to set the perfect scene.

If you obsess over singers and bands, and are one of those people who make a playlist for every occasion, join CMN’s Music Journalism Course and get real-time experience, intense feedback on your writing, exposure to music industry insiders, and a great place to display build your portfolio. Get all the details on the Music Journalism Course here.

Alessandra is a music journalist originally from the New York area, who loves to speak and write about music of all different genres. The world of sound is filled with endless possibilities and experiences that both fans and musicians should recognize.

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