I’ve gone back through movie history in five-year increments. I’ve done it to television as well. Yes, you can guess where this is going. It’s time to turn to music. What I will be doing this time is highlighting one album from every year and writing about it. I’m starting with 2015, and rest assured I will not be writing about Seth McFarlane’s album No One Ever Tells You. These won’t all necessarily tie directly into my own personal music tastes, but my 2015 choice does. I’m focusing on Waxahatchee’s transitional album Ivy Tripp.
I have a tattoo of the album art from Katie Crutchfield’s old band P.S. Eliot’s Introverted Romance in our Troubled Minds and a tattoo inspired by the Waxahatchee song “Swan Dive.” Needless to say, I’m a fan. However, Ivy Tripp is the album that feels like it’s lost in the mix. I really enjoy her early “strumming an acoustic” albums like Cerulean Salt. The EP of her early songs is one I return to quite often. Waxahatchee’s last two albums, Out in the Storm and Saint Cloud are both excellent. Saint Cloud will almost assuredly finish in the top five albums of 2020 for me. There are four Waxahatchee albums (and one EP) I really enjoy and listen to all the time. And then there’s Ivy Tripp.
Now, I’m not saying it’s not good. I like Ivy Tripp. It just doesn’t work as well as her early acoustic albums or her current fleshed-out sound. Crutchfield worked with two other musicians to make Ivy Tripp, and it has a more lush sound that goes beyond the simplicity of her early work. It feels clear Crutchfield is figuring out that new sound. That’s evident in the song “La Loose,” the biggest song from the album. In fact, it may be her most-popular song in total. I really enjoy it too. However, when I want to listen to “Ivy Tripp,” I often fire up YouTube and listen to a live acoustic performance. In that version, it’s absolutely beautiful and gripping and emotionally stirring. The album version is good, but it has a punch and verve to it that I kind of feel diminishes its power.
Hey, when your “worst” album is still good, that’s not a bad thing. Ivy Tripp was a necessarily step for Waxahatchee in terms of leaving behind her stripped-down early sound and becoming a more band-oriented act. Evolution isn’t always a smooth process. Waxahatchee didn’t make the best album of 2015 (I’d have to look into my archives to see what I did choose that year, but I’m pretty sure it was Sore by Dilly Dally) but she made an album that still has a lot going for it, and one that will always be a fascinating monument to a specific point in her career.