Allison Crutchfield is No Tourist in This Town
Allison Crutchfield, a member of Waxahatchee, P.S. Eliot, Swearin’, and other acts, has released her debut solo record, Tourist in This Town. Taking pages from the new brand of rocking singer songwriting ladies (think Courtney Barnett, think Cherry Glazerr in “Nuclear Bomb”), Crutchfield’s album is smart, messy, and absolutely infectious.
Tourist in This Town begins with the song “Broad Daylight.” The track has so many twists and turns that I had to go back and listen to it again seconds after it washed into the album’s first single, “I Don’t Ever Wanna Leave California.” A folksy gospel intro swells into a lush and composed rise that positively vibrates as Crutchfield’s vocal melodies shimmer around the song’s center. Exploding with very forward drums, “Broad Daylight” promises an album that will signal the end of faffing around.
Throughout Tourist in This Town, Crutchfield’s lyrics are smart and uber-catchy, combining associations with a dizzying speed. The sound that permeates the album is set solidly in the slacker, alt-rock that came to define the 90s (Beck, Soul Coughing, Alanis Morissette, etc). That said, the album moves beyond its initial influences to create moments that are stunningly intimate and almost painfully tender before washing into pure fun.
And nowhere is this feeling of pure fun more palpable than in “Dean’s Room.” The song shimmies just above a dance beat–combining Crutchfield’s bare lyrics and alt-country twinge with slick synths and driving percussion. “Dean’s Room” acts as the pop hit of the album. The song has enough energy to carry its listener over the middle hump of the album and enough smarts not to bore after multiple listens.
The second half of the album seems to spin much fuller than the first half. Droning synths and electronic textures widen the songs enough to allow the listener to occupy their aural spaces comfortably. It’s almost as if Tourist in This Town is split between wanting to be a singer songwriter album of acoustic guitars and new sincerity and also to be an M83-esque swell of post-(indie)-rock textures.
Some might argue that splitting her time between these two aesthetics weakens this musician’s debut, but somehow Crutchfield has managed to smooth these sounds together to create an album that not so much vacillates between extremes as it highlights different elements of its continuous sound. Ending with “Chopsticks on Pots and Pans,” Crutchfield puts forth some of her most traditional sounding singer songwriter talents.
While undeniably pop, Allison Crutchfield’s debut, Tourist in This Town, is a wonderful listen. Its collage of its lyrical worship of the new sincerity movement and its tautly arranged instrumentals give it that intimate feel of a porch concert while keeping the production of a major album.