Waxahatchee’s struggles reflected in ‘Ivy Tripp’ 

click to enlarge Folk-rocker Waxahatchee brings her act to The City this week. - COURTESY MICHAEL RUBENSTEIN
  • Folk-rocker Waxahatchee brings her act to The City this week.
Philadelphia singer Katie Crutchfield thought she had a great plan for “Ivy Tripp,” her third album under the folk-rock sobriquet of Waxahatchee.

She would disappear for several months into a secluded retreat on Long Island, where she could compose without distractions. She did come up with edgy songs – such as “Air,” “Breathless,” and the 1960s-jangly “The Dirt” for the recording, her first on Merge Records – but it wasn’t easy.

Crutchfield, who appears in The City this week, already was having music-biz issues. Her previous indie effort, 2013’s “Cerulean Salt” – plus an opening slot on a Tegan and Sara U.K. tour – created a big buzz that startled her.

“A lot of people heard my last record, and then I signed with Merge, and it took a lot of adjusting to get used to that – it was a little overwhelming,” says the singer. “But privacy has always been really important for me, so after touring, I made a conscious choice to get away and totally focus on what I was doing.”

By nature, Crutchfield admits that she’s somewhat neurotic, and more than a tad anxious. Long Island didn’t help. She fell into depression, and started missing her friends, family and the routine of playing, or attending concerts.

Then the rabid bibliophile began reading true crime books, ones dealing with Charles Manson, and the stark poetry by Stevie Smith and Adrienne Rich, which she believes weighed heavily on “Ivy Tripp” lyrics.

“So moving out to Long Island, I ended up feeling super-isolated,” says the artist, who also broke up with her boyfriend and Waxahatchee collaborator Keith Spencer after the taxing experience (although they continue to make music together).

“It’s the kind of thing you romanticize, like, ‘Oh, I’m going to move to the woods and never see another human being again, because I’m so sick of living in the city.’ But when you actually do that? It sucks!”

In retrospect, Crutchfield thinks “Ivy Tripp’s” theme is best summarized by the song “Poison” and such lines as “You get lazy, you get boring/ And you jump the track.”

“It’s the juxtaposition of the conventional life trajectory of having babies, getting married, and doing the same thing every day, versus making irresponsible or unconventional choices, just to make yourself happy,” she says.

This Waxahatchee auteur will choose the road less taken, every time. She also hopes to pen a memoir eventually. “Because I’ve actually tried to keep a tally of insane stories that have happened to me, all the wild shenanigans I’ve found myself in,” she says. “So maybe 15, 20, 30 years down the road, I’ll do that.”



Where: Great American Music Hall, 859 O’Farrell St.. S.F.

When: 8 p.m. April 29

Tickets: $16

Contact: (415) 885-0750, www.slimspresents.com

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Tom Lanham

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