031 :: I

Listen to "031 :: I" on Spreaker.


Tigers Blood by Waxahatchee, released by Anti- in 2024. Listen / Buy direct


This is an artist who knows exactly who they are. They know exactly who "you" are, too, the second person in all their lyrics. Every song on this record feels like a frank conversation that needed to happen. It might seem accusatory if it didn't sound so sweet. But that's the grace of honesty that only a clear-eyed observer of life can bring. So let's pull up a chair and hear what this singer has to say.

This song, like so many of the singer's others, traces out a relational dynamic, here between a "you" who is selfish and self-centered, to the neglect of others' feelings, and an "I" who has been burned one too many times, and describes their relationship this way: "All my life I've been running from what you want". It's an all too familiar situation, one person taking everything except for responsibility for their actions, while the other is left questioning their complicity as they struggle to break free. We don't know if the "you" of this song is a lover, or a friend, or a parent, or a sibling. But that's kind of the point, as we can see them all in its story and in the beautifully enigmatic imagery that it uses to get at this feeling, with lines like "am I your moat or your drawbridge?" or "it plays on my mind how the time passing holds you like pocket change".

Yet what I find most remarkable about this song is not its truthfulness or its poetry, but how the singer doesn't sound at all jilted, or heartbroken, or even just fed up. They're not giving voice to the anger and frustration and sadness that's surely there. Rather, the song feels like it's coming from a place of understanding, of knowing yourself and knowing others, and of finally being able to see a relationship for what it is. And that feels special. It's rare enough to reach a place like that in our own relationships; rarer still for a piece of music to commemorate that achievement, and to encapsulate a glimmer of how it feels.

But now let me be honest for a minute. Because as extraordinary as I believe this music to be, I do have to admit that it is just folk music at the end of the day. At first blush you might think that you've heard it all before: the common chord progressions, the easy melodies, that familiar country lilt. So why, then, is this the most affecting song I've heard all year?

First, to state the obvious, music doesn't need to be original to move us. And second, it's all in the details: that pristine voice; the perfectly tuned guitar tones; the uncanny harmonization of its chorus duet; and these gemlike lyrics that are like poems unto themselves, like "you just settle in like a song with no end". Other songs may be similar, but no song is just like this.

But there's another reason that this song is so affecting, at least to my ears. For me, this music has the special, ineffable quality that comes from an artist making exactly the kind of art they're on this earth to make. What I hear in this music is an artist who has found their voice, an artist who is less interested in writing the "best" songs and more concerned to write the songs that only they can sing. Because, in the end, that's all an artist can really ever do. It just takes some artists longer to get there. Every sound on this record just feels like it's in its right place. And there's nothing quite like that feeling.

This is an artist who knows exactly who they are. They've found their song, and now they're just settling in, with no end in sight. And their music is an invitation for us to settle in with them and hear what they have to say.

Liner Notes

Tiger's blood is a snow cone flavour, a stark red combination of strawberry, watermelon, and coconut.