This guest blog article is by Joana Ortiz.
The room stood still as Jess Williamson crooned ever so gracefully at Red 7, in support of Angel Olsen’s U.S. tour. (What are you doing? Jot Angel’s name down!)
Before I showed up, I read through tweets circling around the show and noticed some questions over the choice of venue. Red 7 is classically known to book rather boisterous acts, but it seems they’re expanding their horizon and opening their arms to artists of various genres who have one thing in common: talent.
Austin native Jess Williamson stunned everyone with her soul-reaching, grabbing, twisting songs from her newly released album, Native State. She strapped her pearly banjo on with its name-branded strap, welcomed guests, and danced her way into the opening-song. Everyone gasped, for her voice was as transfixing as a mystery television show with an unraveling story.
Did you wanna ask
Your little lady
Why she’s crying
Changing her sheets
As every song flowed through the speakers, no one wanted the set to end. There was more to discover – more lonesome, cold, and raw escapes left to every word. Williamson’s supportive band had a gentle and whispering presence. In some way, their soft notes were a sign of humility, making way for the haunting voice of Jess.
This was a unique and extraordinary experience for me, as I found myself grinning and not being able to turn away in case I missed something. It’s hard to peg Jess Williamson’s genre, other than folk with hints of grass, the desert, and the howling wolves waiting for other signs of life.
Here I am at 25
And I can’t sign a lease
Mostly I survive
Off people being nice to me
Jess won “Best Solo Artist” at the Austin Music Blogger Awards on February 27, 2014, so the secret is out. Pour yourself a shot of whiskey, spin her tunes, and keep an eye out for her upcoming shows. Don’t be afraid to be social as well. You can find her on Facebook and Twitter.
Joana Ortiz is an Austin native who drinks too much coffee, is Amy Poehler’s BFFL, and a Foreign Policy nerd. Follow her nonsensical thoughts @joanaortiz.
All photos courtesy of JessWilliamson.com.