‘Ivy Tripp’ may sound like the name of a character from a 1960s soap opera, but Katie Crutchfield (aka Waxahatchee) came up with the term to describe ‘directionless-ness – specifically of the twentysomething, thirtysomething, fortysomething of today, lacking regard for the complaisant life path of our parents and grandparents’ as the Philadelphia-based singer-songwriter explained recently.
‘Ivy Tripp’ certainly isn’t lacking in Generation Y melancholy. When the 26-year-old sings ‘I’m a basement brimming with nothing great’ over crafty guitar riffs on ‘The Dirt’, it feels like an early Christmas present to the musical supervisor on Lena Dunham’s ‘Girls’. Crutchfield is equally fearless when it comes to examining her romantic dissatisfaction. ‘I know that I feel more than you do/I selfishly want you here to stick to,’ she admits on the disarmingly lovely ‘La Loose’. Sometimes, one of Crutchfield’s couplets will provoke an unwanted ‘Dawson’s Creek’ flashback. ‘Stale by Noon’ starts with the ropey teenage poetry of ‘Ethereal I’m in bloom, torturing the afternoon’. But her voice – robust and rough round the edges like Carole King – is so genuine that it’s hard to hold a grudge.
Musically, ‘Ivy Tripp’ feels like a more self-confident and accessible version of Waxahatchee’s breakthrough second album ‘Cerulean Salt’ from 2013. Over 13 songs, it darts from ramshackle indie-rock inspired by Crutchfield’s 1990s heroines to more stripped down singer-songwriter fare. But there’s definite experimentation and expansion here too: Crutchfield tries out programmed drum beats on ‘La Loose’ and builds ‘Stale By Noon’ around plinky-plonky keyboards instead of her customary guitar riffs.
Though this home-recorded album sounds invitingly lo-fi (‘Summer of Love’ even ends with the sound of a barking dog), what really captivates are Crutchfield’s effortless pop melodies and compellingly candid lyrics. Whatever your age and state of ‘directionless-ness’, ‘Ivy Tripp’ is an album you’ll want to spend a lot of time with.
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