Jess Williamson, Native State

Laura Leebove

By Laura Leebove

Managing Editor
on 02.14.14 in Reviews
Spare, intimate and arresting

Austin’s Jess Williamson writes folksongs that are spare, intimate and arresting, often in the same vein as Angel Olsen or early Sharon Van Etten. On her debut seven-track EP Native State, she’s usually backed by banjo or a lonely electric guitar and singing in a sweet, hushed alto that cracks and swells and yelps in just the right places. Williamson’s songs are frequently based in nature, with lines about driving through a northwest storm, ladies moonbathing at the riverside, and pride personified as mountains and little birds. As often as her lyrics can be a bit challenging to unpack, she’s straightforward in her search for stability in the chaos of 20-something life. In “Seventh Song,” she sings, desperately, “I got a good idea, I just can’t find my pen/ we’re all waiting for life to begin” and later, “Here I am at 25 and I can’t sign a lease/ mostly I survived off of people being nice to me,” and it’s these themes that resonate the most.