There are rock musicians who love literature. Then there’s Katie Crutchfield, a bibliophile who dubbed one of her early combos P.S. Eliot and formed another on a more specific literary premise: every one of its songs was based on poems by the late Anne Sexton.
Her scrappy sophomore recording as the punk-folkie Waxahatchee is “Cerulean Salt,” which she’ll play in The City on Monday in a show featuring twin sister Allison’s band Swearin’ as the opener.
With apparent ease, she has penned one of the most literate efforts of the year with “Cerulean Salt.” She spins lyrics such as “I said to you on the night that we met / I am not well” on the waltzing “Brother Bryan,” and, on the galloping “Swan Dive,” she says, “I cling to indifference, you to your worst memory / Dark winter morning you honk your car horn at me.”
But she already is working on its follow-up at her parents’ house in Birmingham, Ala. (after stints in Philadelphia and New York), with piles of books scattered around her bedroom for inspiration.
At 24, she says, “I think I’m a millennial, technically. But I certainly don’t live my life like one.”
Growing up in Birmingham’s DIY punk scene, the twins were motivated to form bands together — such as The Ackleys and Bad Banana — before Allison struck out on her own in Swearin’ with her guitarist beau Kyle Gilbride. Also in the group: bassist Keith Spencer, who is Katie’s boyfriend and her bandmate in their side project Great Thunder.
“I think she needed to establish her own identity,” says Crutchfield, who issued her lo-fi debut, “American Weekend,” last year.
That disc revolved around a breakup. “Cerulean” is more adult-themed.
“These songs are much more personal, and from my own experiences,” says the vocalist-guitarist. “But at the time I wrote them, I was reading Carson McCullers and Flannery O’Connor, like ‘A Good Man is Hard to Find.’ And because the songs are based on my life as a young woman in the South, that literature totally resonated with me.”
“In a very dry, deliberate delivery, I’m trying to give you my stories with no whining, no emotion,” she says.
What’s coloring Waxahatchee’s latest work? She rattles off titles — two Georgia O’Keeffe biographies, James Jones’ “From Here to Eternity” and Morrissey’s dirt-dishing new autobiography.
“I’m also reading a lot of poetry, because I really want to expand my understanding of language,” she says. “I’m just trying to keep my brain sharp!”
IF YOU GO
Where: Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell St., S.F.
When: 8 p.m. Monday
Tickets: $10 to $12