This article first appeared at No Ripcord on February 6, 2017.

584_allisoncrutchfield_touristinthistown_900px

Allison Crutchfield needs a vacation. Or some sort of getaway. In 2015, Swearin’ broke up and she ended her relationship with guitarist Kyle Gilbride. With two focal points of her life gone, Crutchfield spent the next year out on her own writing her solo debut, Tourist in This Town. This synthy, poppy, angry and melancholy affair is all about escape and the reasons behind it.

While the album may appear light, don’t take that to mean it’s fluffy. The buoyant atmosphere masks the pain and drama of a failed relationship. I Don’t Ever Wanna Leave California sounds like it belongs on the Cali beach, with surf guitar and an upbeat atmosphere. But Surfin‘ U.S.A., this is not. “We’re pretty far away from Philadelphia/And that’s fine ’cause I’m really starting to hate you,” Crutchfield sings, adding a tinge of irritation on the last couple of words. Broad Daylight starts as a lovely a cappella spiritual, but she admits that “our love is here to die.” 

Sometimes, that loss leads to retreat and evasion. Over the jangly guitar of Expatriate, she sings, “I will always love you, but I will throw my suitcase down/I’m a tourist in this town.” But even the traveling life of a musician can’t shake her former lover from her mind. “I can’t enjoy Paris ’cause I can’t get away from you/You’re like a ghost trapped in my hotel room,” she sings on Sightseeing, the synths spreading out and vibrating into the atmosphere.

When Crutchfield confronts her break-up head-on, the sadness, animosity and self-doubt pour out. Even on Dean’s Room, with its driving drums and New Order synth line, she sings, “Think of you like a roach at my feet/I am just as scared of you as you are of me.” On the acoustic Charlie, her partner puts her on a pedestal and forces her to shoulder his burdens: “You yell in my face, you tell me I am strong/And you tell me that I am the only one that you have ever trusted enough to lean on.” Even the music switches up to reflect her ire on The Marriage, a quick, punky blast.

Chopsticks on Pots and Pans ends the record with contradictions, mixing anthemic music with lyrics that show regret over being hung up on her past. “Like how I remember making you tea on the last morning we shared/Or how more than anything, I just wish I didn’t care,” she sings. After a long-term relationship ends, a small piece of it stays with you. Tourist in This Town finds Crutchfield learning that travel or exorcism aren’t solutions. Instead,  she finds the solace in her craft. The words may be heavy, but she’s found a path forward.

7/10
Advertisements