Allison Crutchfield: Tourist in This Town review – uplifting pop with tension beneath

(Merge)

The first minute of Alabama singer-songwriter Allison Crutchfield’s debut album is sung a cappella. It’s an intimate experience, hearing her multitracked voice without accompaniment, and when the band kicks in it’s quite a surprise – not least because the dominant sound is 80s analogue synthesisers, a specialty of producer Jeff Zeigler. There are cooing backing vocals, buzzsaw new-wave guitars and one-finger synth patterns. Crutchfield’s lyrics are conversational and literate, like those of Eleanor Friedberger or Courtney Barnett. But in contrast to the comfortable retrofitted backdrop and her voice, prettified by Bangles-style harmonies, Crutchfield’s lyrics are not all sweetness and light. Tourist in This Town is a break-up album: there’s a lot of getting upset in hotel rooms (Mile Away) and not being able to enjoy being in a nice place because of relationship upsets and “bodies in the basement” (Sightseeing). Still, it’s not a hard listen: songs such as Secret Lives and Deaths and I Don’t Ever Wanna Leave California are uplifting pop confections.

Contributor

Jon Dennis

The GuardianTramp

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