With apologies to Jason Isbell, Harry Styles and Lorde, each of whom have recently released stellar records, the Album of the Summer 2017 title now belongs to Waxahatchee's phenomenal Out in the Storm. This is a full-on guitar-rock album with a hefty dose of turmoil and confession, yet the style and substance are expertly balanced and work together in addictive fashion.
Alabama-native Katie Crutchfield has been around for years, releasing records under her Waxahatchee solo moniker (named for a creek near her parents' home, not after the Texas town of Waxahachie) and performing with her sister Allison in the punk group P.S. Eliot.
Out in the Storm is the fourth Waxahatchee album, and while it may not actually be the best she's made (it's hard to beat her first two offerings, American Weekend and Cerulean Salt), it's certainly her most fully formed, unapologetic collection of tunes thus far. This particular set of songs is Crutchfield's autobiographical document of a failed relationship, and like so much of the world's most impactful art, these songs present pain and uncertainty in an unavoidably gorgeous collage.
For those of us who were in high school during the Clinton administration, it's impossible to not recognize the echoes of the '90s alt-rock standouts such as the Breeders, Built to Spill or Crutchfield's Merge Records label mates Superchunk. But the way in which the lyrics of the album's fastest driving track, "Silver," address her moving on from a love that's grown cold gives the song a hearty weight surpassing simple nostalgia. Regardless of tempo, Crutchfield's power-whisper vocals are every bit the complementary instrument to the tunes.
There's just not a better new album this summer that more keenly understands that the initial chill of fall is just around the corner. Waxahatchee's Out in the Storm is a record for all seasons.
Waxahatchee performs on Aug. 4 at Club Dada, 2720 Elm St., Dallas. $15. Details here.