Music Reviews
Tigers Blood

Waxahatchee Tigers Blood

(Anti-) Rating - 7/10

On Tigers Blood, her latest release as Waxahatchee, Karen Crutchfield regains a sense of normalcy after a tumultuous period in her life. But as her confessional songs richly detail, normalcy can be just as hard to come by. The winding, sun-dappled Americana of 2020's Saint Cloud underscored the gift of finding sobriety and simmering down post-breakup, presented in sometimes unflattering ways, with the Alabama native working with familiar arrangements that sounded downright magical.

Simplicity is also a core focus of Tigers Blood, on which she once again brings longtime producer Brad Cook to inject his typically gentle, earthy productions. “If you're not living, then you're dying,” she sings on 3 Sisters, a fitting axiom for an artist who's gained the life experience that allows her to move on. There's a timelessness to tracks like Lone Star Lake and Right Back to It, the latter featuring rising singer/songwriter MJ Lenderman, on which she narrates lived-in stories over banjo-led folk rock.

Tigers Blood does sound flawless to a degree despite not being particularly memorable. Crutchfield sheds some of her idiosyncratic flourishes in favor of more traditional songwriting, which might be the intent here—and even emphasizes the poetic lyricism on display. The brisk, rudimentary acoustic melody of Crimes of the Future comes to mind. Crutchfield stretches herself to a more accessible vocal range, laying bare the challenges of being a creative person with candid relatability.

Crutchfield does occasionally shake things up on Tigers Blood. The mid-tempo roots rocker Ice Cold is destined to become a setlist favorite, while Crowbar boasts a pleasing jangle in thrall to R.E.M circa Out of Time. She smartly assembles a spirited cast of young collaborators throughout to add color to her performances, all of whom are indebted to her influence while also moving the needle on their own terms. But while her choices are clearly articulated, one can't help but feel like she's easing into a comforting cadence that will ultimately lead to her next definitive statement.