Sorceress by Jess Williamson

Sometimes I feel that writing any words of critical praise for any music that I encounter is futile in the face of such beautiful creative power, but then I have to write something because such raw beauty compels me to do something besides twirling around and singing along.

Full Disclosure: When I lived in Austin pursuing the music thing in live venues and on this website to make it a financially viable website (unsuccessfully, but I am still hopeful that an opportunity will materialize somewhere), I used to listen to the local college radio station at the University of Texas, KVRX. Mornings before 9 at some point in my sojourn preparing for one of my day jobs, Williamson was a DJ there. Listening to her show became a habit, and all of the artists she played, but one, I can’t remember. Joanna Newsom was the one I do remember that has stay with me, in memory and in my record collection.

Williamson would also occasionally bring her mandolin to the station and strum a folk song or two. There might have been an original in there as well. I would occasionally call the station and request that she play a favorite Newsom tune of hers and encourage her to play more music somewhere. She would be leaving for Brooklyn to art school to study photography shorty thereafter, and I had thought that would be the end of it.

When she returned to Austin from school, I don’t remember how I heard about it first, but she began recording her own music, beautiful and very embedded in eclectic Texas folk. That first one was a red-white-and-blue vinyl affair with a Texas toast waffle on the flip side. She’s released three others since that first one. Williamson’s evolutionary Texas folk continued and grew over three albums, the last one released as Mexican Summer’s first Williamson release. Until Sorceress, the first three albums felt like a perfectly compact trilogy, in spite of signing with Mexican Summer for the album she recorded before this.

Listening to Sorceress feels like a whole new chapter of Williamson’s music, a whole new evolution. This might be partly due to her recent move to California. I listened to this for the first time after recently watching a documentary on the collective creativity that existed within, and drew many talented musicians, to the Laurel Canyon neighborhood of Los Angeles, California. I may be projecting this upon the album, but listening to it again now, I can still hear what sounds like a beautiful influence of that era’s best upon such an amazing and original album. Sorceress is an album that seems to echo that influence some and create its own original heartbreakingly beautiful melodies that desire to be quietly hummed and gently sung along to.

I hope that I have brought beauty and justice to such a stellar work of art. Please check it out at the above link and grab a copy if you desire and tell everyone about this. As for me, I look forward to Williamson’s next adventure.

RadioMike, 1 March 2021

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