American Weekend by Katie Crutchfield is the saddest record I’ve ever heard. This is a record to approach with caution. This is the ultimate soundtrack to every moment you spent alone; the ultimate soundtrack to a heart breaking or a soul tearing itself apart. This is the kind of record that can find your heart in the pitch black when you’re at your furthest away from anyone and extract your poisons. Conversely, it can take you to the lowest depths of your existential foundations. It’s a dark room at 1AM in a haze of alcohol and words of catharsis that you could say a million times over in your head but will flee the moment you face your demons. It comes from an acoustic guitar in crackling lo-fi and a beautiful 22-year-old woman who’s telling you that “I don’t care if I’m too young to be unhappy”. But in the end, Crutchfield could be saying anything she wants or nothing at all, and the sound would cut you all the same. To tell you the truth, after two years of on-and-off listening, I know little more than a few lines of lyrics off American Weekend. I’ve only ever heard sound in this record and it is already so overwhelming. In fact, I’ve never been able to handle this record in more than occasional doses, because I haven’t gotten that low in years. But sometimes, in the words of a man named Gareth Campesinos who has nothing to do with anything, “the low is what I came for”.
I’ve come to a crossroads in my life in which I have to decide whether I want to allow a future to accumulate in my lap on its own or work for the things that I want, and it’s only fitting that American Weekend–a record I know nothing about but feels like a knife carving away at my insides–is there for me. It’s because I believe in getting to the very bottom and having nowhere to go but up. I believe in redemption. I believe that sometimes, to face your demons, you’ve got to be brought to your knees, weeping and pathetic and ready to die so that you can’t fight or take the easy way out. Lately, American Weekend has revealed its ability to channel that in me. There’s something about those sounds: even the least gut-wrenching, soul-destroying songs like “Be Good” play like happy memories on a black-and-white projector screen from a time that deteriorates more and more in your mind as the days keep slipping away. I suppose what this record is to me is an appeal for change. I took a look at the very last four lyrics to this album and they read as follows: “You’re in the Carolinas and I’m going to New York / and I’ll be much better there / or that’s what I’m hoping for / and we will never speak again”.