The Flower Mound-raised singer-songwriter Jess Williamson splits her time these days between Los Angeles and Marfa. It is, in her estimation, a physical embodiment of a sensation she’s long felt in her soul.
“I feel like I’m just as comfortable in an urban environment as I am in the desert in West Texas,” Williamson said during a recent conversation. “It’s like they’re both kind of in me, and I feel like that’s on this record too.”
Indeed, the gorgeous Time Ain’t Accidental, Williamson’s first solo LP in three years (and a follow-up to 2020’s Sorceress), arrives Friday and deploys pedal steel as easily as a drum machine — that city and country split made manifest on record.
Williamson will find herself in her old stomping grounds on Thursday, performing a pre-release gig at Sundown at Granada.
Accidental is another arresting collection from the 26-year-old Williamson, who’s returning to North Texas for her second appearance in seven months, following her Halloween gig with Plains, a side project she launched last year with Waxahatchee’s Katie Crutchfield.
When we spoke with Williamson ahead of that concert, she alluded to Accidental’s existence, saying that the Plains material was composed amid the songwriting already underway for what would become Accidental.
“I think what Plains really helped to do was help me differentiate in my own writing style, like some things lean really country and can live in the Plains world,” Williamson said. “Then some of the songs just felt more me and more like my specific voice. … I will say, through working on Plains, what I learned about songwriting in general is to simplify, and to be direct — that country adage of three chords and the truth. It really doesn’t have to be complicated to make a song that is going to really reach people.”
Which brings us back to Marfa and her interior life — Williamson wrote much of this latest record as she reeled from the one-two punch of a relationship’s end and the pandemic beginning. Three years on, she’s emerged having found love “with an old friend” in Marfa, and a record she calls “really vulnerable [and] really personal.”
“The record has a lot of hope,” Williamson said. “The message is not to look for the answers outside of yourself [but] that it’s really about turning inward. When you get better on the inside, things get better on the outside.”
Jess Williamson and Brody Price at Sundown at Granada, Dallas. 8:30 p.m. Thursday. Tickets are $20.
Preston Jones is a North Texas freelance writer and regular contributor to KXT. Email him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter (@prestonjones). Our work is made possible by our generous, music-loving members. If you like how we lift up local music, consider becoming a KXT sustaining member right here.