New Music Reviews: Waxahatchee and Tyla

Two mononymous female artists this week – the Americana of Waxahatchee and the smooth Afrobeats pop of South Africa’s Tyla.

Waxahatchee

Tigers Blood

2024, 9/10
Indie artist Katie Crutchfield keeps getting better with each album. Tigers Blood dips back into the Americana sound she explored on 2020’s strong St Cloud. This time she’s fortunate to be accompanied by MJ Lenderman on guitar and harmonies. Their voices sound beautiful together, recalling Emmylou Harris and Gram Parsons on Parsons’s solo records. Her band also includes Spencer Tweedy, son of Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy, on drums.

The lead single, ‘Right Back To It’, arrived in early January, and it’s still my favourite track of the year. Lenderman’s wobbly voice and tuneful guitar are great foils for Crutchfield.

The Lenderman partnership is so strong that the other tracks where his harmonies appear are among my favourites, like ‘Evil Spawn’ and the title track. The sparsely arranged ‘365’ departs the furthest from Waxahatchee’s usual sound, with Crutchfield only accompanied by a quiet guitar.

‘Right Back To It’ is my favourite song of the year, and Tigers Blood is one of my favourite records of this year so far.


Tyla

Tyla

2024, 7.5/10
South Africa’s Tyla is known as the “Queen of Popiano”, as she melds pop and amapiano. She mixes the smooth vocals of someone like Sade with an atmospheric piano-based sound.

She hit the mainstream with her single ‘Water’. It reached the Billboard Top 10, making her the first South African solo artist to chart in the US Top 100 since the 1960s. Hugh Masekela and Miriam Makeba both had solo hits in the late 1960s. The song features log drums, helping to emphasise the South African flavour.

The smooth, chilled-out sound of ‘Water’ accurately indicates the rest of the record. She adds some R&B flavour to ‘On and On’, while ‘Butterflies’ features pretty acoustic guitar. The lack of diversity and depth makes Tyla feel facile, but it’s pleasantly smooth.

Tyla is smooth and beautifully sung, but it lacks depth and diversity.

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5 Comments

  1. “Tigers Blood” by Waxahatchee is pretty neat. I featured another song (“Bored”) from that album back in March when it came out. I like “Right Back to It” even better. I agree Crutchfield’s harmony singing with MJ Lenderman sounds great. Tyla has a pleasant voice as well, though musically it’s not as much up my alley.

    • I think I commented on that Waxahatchee poll. Having that and the new Adrianne Lenker album in the same week was a lot of great Americana at once.

  2. I really like Katie Crutchfield’s sound…very Americana. The mix is excellent on the music.
    When I heard Tyler…I automatically thought of Sade…very smooth like you said. Sade is the definition of smooth. I’m not saying she sounds a lot like her…but there was something about the sound that reminded me of her.

    • I love that Waxhatchee song, the kids got sick of it when it came out because I liked playing it in the car on repeat.

      Sade is more sophisticated and jazzy, but their voices are similarly smooth.

      • It is a really good song that I really like the sound of it.
        Yea I’m not a Sade expert at all but yea…that must be where I heard the similarities.
        Off Topic…but I haven’t had much time but I listened to a song called Honeycomb by Helium with Mary Timony…I liked it a lot. I will explore a little more when I get more time.

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