Waxahatchee Credit: Michael Rubenstein

There’s a beautiful thread of stoic cynicism exuded by Katie Crutchfield as a songwriter, not unlike a sardonic country singer who’s as in tune with everyday drudgery as she is weary of it. Under the moniker Waxahatchee, Crutchfield has blossomed from bedroom-pop poet into full-fledged indie-rock force, and the new Out in the Storm (Merge)—on which her twin sister, Allison, contributes percussion and keyboards—is a testament to exactly how far that move has gone. You can still hear faint echoes of her modest beginnings in a triumphant and defiant slow-marching acoustic yarn like “Sparks Fly,” or even in a breezy, chugging rocker like “Silver,” as her wistful lyrics keep to the uncertainty of exactly which landing is the right one to stick. Her fourth full-length isn’t belabored, it isn’t overwrought—no seven-minute epics to be found here—instead, Crutchfield remains sincere, trusting her stark vocal melodies to do the heavy lifting as opposed to relying on crescendo after crescendo. And when left alone out on an island, she’s at her absolute best, working the open space with a simultaneous swagger and vulnerability that feels as real as anything happening in indie rock today.   v