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Plains - I Walked With You A Ways (Album Review)

Thursday, 20 October 2022 Written by Craig Howieson

Photo: Molly Matalon

Nothing lasts forever. Often, life's sweetest moments are defined by their fleeting nature. Plains, the new collaborative project between Waxahatchee’s Katie Crutchfield and solo artist Jess Williamson, is billed as a one time only event. This fact lends the duo's new record ‘I Walked With You A Ways’ a bittersweet quality, as over the course of its 10 tracks they prove themselves to be an impressive songwriting combination.

Now five albums into her solo run, including with 2020’s stunning ‘Saint Cloud', Crutchfield’s style has gradually evolved from melodious lo-fi indie to full blown country and Americana. Similarly, Williamson has cemented herself as one of the finest purveyors of left-field folk in recent times, scattering uncut gems across her four albums.

But as Plains the pair double down on their country influences, embracing every facet of the genre and allowing their songwriting to set them apart. The album is proof that the medium is as vital a tool in communicating loss, hope and heartbreak as it ever has been, regardless of the intended audience. 

Largely recorded through a smattering of live vocal takes, their intertwining voices lend the record a campfire camaraderie as tales are spun and lessons learned. This album is a deep dive into the past simultaneously recalling The Carter Family, Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash and Emmylou Harris. 

There is a woozy lilt to the slide guitar-infused Line of Site while the propulsive resilience of lead single Problem With It and the record's other highlight Hurricane find the two singers, arms round shoulders, embracing the North Carolina sunrise where the album was recorded. 

There are some lines scattered throughout that would land heavily when in the hands of less impressive songwriters. “You call a spade a spade,” from Easy would sound clunky if not included in one of the record most impressive moments, and the pair know that these platitudes are all in service of the greater picture they are painting. 

‘I Walked With You A Ways’ may well be the only music we are treated to from Plains. Luckily, it contains more than enough warmth to make you want to return for repeated visits. It is every bit as gorgeous as you would hope.

Plains Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Fri October 21 2022 - SEATTLE - Neptune Theatre (USA)
Sat October 22 2022 - PORTLAND Oregon - Revolution Hall Portland (USA)
Mon October 24 2022 - SONOMA California - Gundlach Bundschu Winery (USA)
Tue October 25 2022 - SAN FRANCISCO California - Regency Ballroom (USA)
Wed October 26 2022 - LOS ANGELES California - Belasco (USA)
Fri October 28 2022 - PIONEERTOWN California - Pappy and Harriets (USA)
Sat October 29 2022 - PHOENIX Arizona - Crescent Ballroom - Phoenix (USA)
Mon October 31 2022 - DALLAS - Studio at the Factory (USA)
Tue November 01 2022 - AUSTIN Texas - Scoot Inn (USA)
Thu November 03 2022 - NEW ORLEANS Louisiana - Tipitinas (USA)
Fri November 04 2022 - BIRMINGHAM AL Alabama - Saturn (USA)
Sat November 05 2022 - NASHVILLE Tennessee - Brooklyn Bowl - Nashville (USA)
Sun November 06 2022 - ATLANTA Georgia - Variety Playhouse (USA)
Mon November 07 2022 - SAXAPAHAW North Carolina - Haw River Ballroom (USA)
Wed November 09 2022 - WASHINGTON District Of Columbia - Howard Theatre - DC (USA)
Thu November 10 2022 - PHILADELPHIA Pennsylvania - Union Transfer (USA)
Fri November 11 2022 - NEW YORK New York - Webster Hall (USA)
Sat November 12 2022 - JERSEY CITY - White Eagle Hall (USA)
Sun November 13 2022 - BOSTON Massachusetts - Royale Boston (USA)
Tue November 15 2022 - TORONTO Ontario - Danforth Music Hall Theatre (Canada)
Wed November 16 2022 - DETROIT Michigan - Majestic Theatre - MI (USA)
Thu November 17 2022 - CHICAGO Illinois - Vic Theatre (USA)
Fri November 18 2022 - MINNEAPOLIS Minnesota - First Avenue (USA)
Sat November 19 2022 - KANSAS CITY Missouri - Knuckleheads Saloon (USA)

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