These Musical Sisters Excel in New Albums

Katie and Allison Crutchfield, of Waxahatchee and Swearin’, make beautiful—but separate—art.

Album Reviews

Swearin’
Fall Into the Sun
Merge

Waxahatchee
Great Thunder
Merge

Whether collaborating in the now-departed P.S. Eliot or working separately, sisters Katie and Allison Crutchfield excel at urgent rock and roll combining garage-band scruffiness and confessional intimacy. On Fall Into the Sun, the third album by the rebooted Swearin’, Allison and fellow singer-songwriter Kyle Gilbride explore wobbly and doomed relationships in tunes shaped by buzzing electric guitars and insistent vocals that are passionate rather than polished (which is a good thing). She tends to be more straightforward, at one point asking, “Will you come back soon and/Let me love you completely/Or will I watch you grow into a ghost?” though he seems equally discombobulated. Either way, it’s like sneaking a tantalizing guilty peek at someone’s diary.

Meanwhile, Katie shifts gears dramatically on the six-track EP Great Thunder, unplugging and slowing down to expose the anguished heart that defines much of her best work. Piano, acoustic guitar, and even banjo provide a peaceful backdrop that only emphasizes her raw emotions as she wails, “I cried all night when you came to my side,” or murmurs, “You left me with an ocean on this rotten day,” roiling in gloom. Absorbing and exhausting, this 18-minute gem packs a cathartic wallop, despite its brevity.