The Austin Chronicle

SXSW 2014 Records

Reviewed by Luke Winkie, March 14, 2014, Music

Jess Williamson

Native State (Brutal Honest)

The seven songs on Native State, Austin folkie Jess Williamson's debut, arise from a period of transition. Leaving New York and headed back to her hometown, she carries a banjo and gravel-etched guitar to back her unadorned, itchy voice, which bobs and weaves through the plucks. She floats among subdermal thumps on "Field" and happily invokes shivers on "Medicine Wheel." She's a folkie, a bit hippie, but don't hold that against her. This compositional cache is its own quiet microuniverse, with fertile ground and wooden walls. I like the way she says, "And I can't be enough, when we're not in love, but I'm picturing your mother" ("Blood Song"). Not exactly a scarcity of men and women with guitars these days, but good songs are good songs. (8pm, Parish Underground)


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