The Plains – I Walked with You a Ways (Indie Exclusive, Pink, Clear Vinyl)
Jess Williams and Waxahatchee’s Katie Crutchfield first bonded over their mutual love of the other’s
music. Their collaboration resulted in a timeless album that eclipses some of their best solo work.
The creative spark that drives these two artists is evident from the opening notes of “Summer Sun,” the
first track. Williams and Crutchfield’s voices dance and weave together like Emmylou Harris’ albums with
Linda Ronstadt (and Dolly Parton) or the (Dixie) Chicks.
Backed by the rhythm section of Phil Cook and Spencer Tweedy (son of Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy), the
album’s 10 tracks go past like a warm summer breeze, bringing irrepressible smiles and dancing. Each
artist brought a handful of songs to the project to finish off with the other. The empathy and soul-
searching that informed Crutchfield’s excellent 2020 album Saint Cloud shines brightly here.
Williamson’s ability to craft her songs as short stories also carries forward.
Just as the name Plains evokes expansive emptiness, the open road acts as a common touchstone in
many songs. Williamson sings about putting her native “Texas in the rearview” on “Abilene.” On
“Problem with It,” Crutchfield “drive(s) fast on high alert.”
Strong independent women are another theme. On “Bellafatima,” the album’s lone cover, the pair sing
about a hard Southern woman who “swore like a dry country welder,” but is “so hungry for someone to
sing.” On “Last 2 On Earth,” Crutchfield sings “when I lose my good grip, (I) get down on my knees and
These joyous anthems of women unafraid of walking away if their vulnerable needs aren’t met manage
to sound both retro and current at the same time, making I Walked with You a Ways one of the best
country/roots albums of the year. -Joel Francis