Gig review: Waxahatchee at Brudenell Social Club, Leeds

Katie Crutchfield, the Alabama singer-songwriter who trades as Waxahatchee, has specialised in introspective catharsis since 2012.

Monday, 18th June 2018, 9:15 pm
Updated Tuesday, 19th June 2018, 3:38 pm

Recording her debut in her family home on solo acoustic guitar, she’s gone on to flesh out her folk-punk with a growing personnel over the course of four albums. Last year’s Out In The Storm, which featured her twin sister Allison and Sleater-Kinney collaborator Katie Harkin, was her most polished and musically robust to date.

When she takes to the stage for a solo version of ‘Chapel Of Pines’, however, it sounds like a throw-back to her earlier recordings. The strummed country track, originally released by her side project Great Thunder, has an intimacy that’s almost uncomfortable to hear when she rhetorically asks, “What am I supposed to be fighting for?”

This intimacy never wavers but the presence of her four-piece band, who play with her for the rest of the main set, gives ballast to her compositions. The trio of guitars on ‘Silver’, for instance, turn it into 90s influenced fuzz-pop while on ‘No Question’ the gentle buzz of feedback lends it a bubblegum grunge quality.

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The full band onslaught brings a punk spirit to many of the songs but their folk influence and a sense of space is never far from the surface. A number of tracks, including ‘Sparks Fly’ and ‘Peace And Quiet’, open with quiet restraint before exploding into crunching alt-rock. It’s this sense of dynamics, along with a strong melodic sensibility, that elevate her above many a confessional writer.

There’s also a sense of journey in her set, the emotional trauma reaching an optimistic conclusion when she returns for a solo encore of ‘Fade’ and whispers with a sense of hidden steel, “I feel amazing today.”