ALBUMS OF THE WEEK: Jess Williamson

Jess Williamson’s Sorceress sounds both indie folk and fully accessible, all at once. Her songs have that timeless I-fell-like-I-know-this-song quality. At places, it calls forth images of the past (with the “helpless, helpless, helpless” lyric in Wind on Tin, for example), while at the same time telling modern stories about current episodes in the lives of real people–notably, with the imagery in “Infinite Scroll,” a song whose title references internet surfing and, at the same time, magical elements from the age of sorcerers.

I know I’ll still be listening to this for years to come.

Jess Williamson’s new record is the perfect pairing with Whitney Rose’s Canadian country record “We Still Go to Rodeos.” Both albums call back to older times, but where Williamson is contrasting the magical with the modern, Whitney Rose is all about nostalgia. Not for the bad parts of the good old days, but for the simpler ones–for the understated southern beauty of saying “Bless Your Heart” when we disagree. Of promising that a one-night stand will matter (“I wanna go home with you, grow old with you”). Of Dolly Parton’s Jolene singing to the woman who took her man “(“Believe Me, Angela). Like Tom Petty before her, Rose fuses classic rock and country and popular music to great effect, creating timeless songs that should be covered by artists for years to come. It moves through many phases of country–from the “big” pop sounds of “I’d Rather Be Alone” to the classic Mexican-influenced “A Hundred Shades of Blue.” Even the album cover looks like it came out in the days of Linda Ronstadt.

An incredibly good, incredibly fun, wonderful record. Proof that you can love the south without accepting all the baggage.

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