Album Review: Allison Crutchfield – Tourist in This Town

By Tanner Bidish, Staff Writer
[Merge; 2017]
Rating: 8/10

Key Tracks: “Charlie,” “Sightseeing,” “Mile Away”

The name may sound familiar; the former drummer of P.S. Eliot, twin sister of Katie Crutchfield a.k.a. Waxahatchee, and notably the voice behind Swearin’. Allison Crutchfield has done a lot, but after the breakup of her last band and one of its members, she starts to do it alone. In 2015, Crutchfield ended a five-year relationship and went on tour with her sister, and that was the inception behind Tourist in This Town.

Crutchfield’s first full-length solo album takes a turn away from the pop-punk stylings of Swearin’ and lo-fi recordings of her 2014 EP. It’s not so much a tangent as it is a declaration of self, both sonically and thematically. Tourist in This Town sees an overhaul in production for Crutchfield. The sounds are crisp and vocals are clean. The songwriting is heavily autobiographical with insights on relationships, uprooting and growing up torn straight from her own life. The result is a record that is equal parts personal and approachable.

While Tourist in This Town was spurred by a breakup, it feels anything but dreary. The album opens boldly with “Broad Daylight.” Crutchfield sings acapella, then the track breaks into a synth-assisted rock jam. The synths are key here and throughout the majority of the album. They lend a brightness amongst the tales of moving on. Also scattered throughout are relatable truths about the struggles of relationships; “I keep confusing love and nostalgia” and “We sleep in the same bed at opposite times” are prime examples of this lyrical honesty (in “I Don’t Ever Want to Leave California” and “Charlie” respectively). The record’s single, “Dean’s Room,” is bursting with energy and an inviting chorus. “Sightseeing” is calm, reflective, and beautiful. The album’s title is thrown out as a firm declaration of personal progress in “Expatriate”: “I will throw my suitcase down, I’m a tourist in this town!” Percussion and synth meld perfectly in the following track, “Mile Away,” for an album highlight.

Every track has something likable to it and nothing gets repetitive. Allison Crutchfield makes herself heard on her latest. Her story of self-growth is accessible and pretty dang irresistible. Tourist in This Town is a true debut of Crutchfield as strong solo act.

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