Arcing in two concentric circles, Jess Williamson and Katie Crutchfield have slowly made their way back to where things began, deep in the mainstream of 90s country-pop. Shania, the Chicks, the Ronstadt/Parton/Harris Trio recordings, Lucinda’s Car Wheels – all touchstones for the singers. And though the two only met five years ago (in Austin), they share this deeper bond.
Crutchfield’s recordings as Waxahatchee were at first crunchy indie rock affairs. But on her latest, 2020’s St. Cloud, the newly sober singer stopped working so hard to hide her Alabama accent. She relaxed and trusted her songs to stand on their own.
Meanwhile, Williamson, a UT Austin alum born and raised in the Dallas burbs, moved to LA and began releasing her new-age-y doses of mild psychedelia. Yet her 2020 release, Sorceress, found a similar reconciliation. Pedal steels crept into the mix, along with a certain coming-of-age acceptance.
Both albums dropped into the pandemic void, and friends Williamson and Crutchfield, voicing frustrations over long phone calls, embraced the uncertainty and decided to collaborate.
The result is I Walked With You A Ways, a shared vision of two minds. They each brought in songs, made suggestions, and bolstered each other’s uncertainties. As for the country vibe, that just fell into place naturally. Producer Brad Cook, who also worked on St. Cloud, brought in Spencer Tweedy and Phil Cook to fill out the sound with organic warmth.
But as their stripped-down Studio 1A performance shows, none of it was really necessary. The power of Plains comes from their songs. Stripped of any facade, direct language steers the breakup tale “Problem With It” and the heartbreak of “Abilene”, while their harmonies ignite with passion. -Jeff McCord
Problem With It
Album: I Walked With You A Way (Anti- Records)
Musicians: Jess Williamson – vocals, guitar; Katie Crutchfield – vocals, guitar
Credits: Host: Laurie Gallardo; Producer: Deidre Gott; Audio Engineer: Jake Perlman; Rene Chavez; Audio Mix: Rene Chavez; Cameras: Michael Minasi, Stone Clemmons; Edit: Stone Clemmons