I’m With Her – See You Around
Decca – 16 February 2018
The term “supergroup” barely begins to describe the mastery of female folk trio I’m With Her. Aoife O’Donovan, Sarah Jarosz, and Sara Watkins are each legends in their own right, with a lengthy list of collaborations, repertoires, and musical abilities. Each member plays at two different instruments on the album with Watkins on fiddle and ukulele, Jarosz on mandolin and banjo, and O’Donovan on piano and synth, but the real breathtaking chords on their new album, See You Around, come from their vocal harmonies.
The songs include elements of the familiar– the opening lines of Game To Lose could be mistaken for a Nickel Creek album, a chord progression in title track See You Around that for a moment transports to Aoife’s solo album Fossils. And yet, the women of I’m With Her don’t look back, delving instead into new musical and artistic challenges. As Sara Watkins mentioned on Twitter, the album is about “moving through the world with a certain boldness and looking forward to the future.”
The trio prove to their listeners that they are at the frontier of music as they push the envelope with the eerie tones introducing Wild One, the rock edge in I-89, and the slow sensuality of Ryland. The lyrics are simultaneously compellingly frank and imbued with a fun-loving, independent spirit. As Sara Watkins mentioned on Twitter, the album is about “moving through the world with a certain boldness and looking forward to the future.” See You Around is a salute to accepting the pain of inevitably running into people we used to know and love around town. Overland is a song for those of us who have experienced bittersweet departures from cities we love: “all of these years thought I was where I ought to be // but the times are changing, this country’s changing and I’m bound for San Francisco, where a new life waits for me.” The forward motion of the songs on the album resonates deeply with listeners searching for the grit and resolution to move on.
Every song on the album, (except the closing track Hundred Miles, contributed by Gillian Welch) was written by the group at a self-imposed retreat in a Vermont farmhouse. Watkins echoes this intense focus, reporting that the band only moved forward with songs that everyone agreed upon. Ethan Johns recorded the album at Real World Studios in Bath, maintaining the close harmony of the group throughout the production process.
Truly, the most remarkable thing about I’m With Her is not the individual command, but the dedicated effort towards a cohesive artistic vision. The beauty of the album is the synchronicity, the careful listening on the part of each band member that creates a simply stunning album.
I’M WITH HER UK 2018 TOUR DATES:
Jan 28 Glasgow, UK (Celtic Connections) Glasgow Royal Concert Hall (and Rory Butler)
Jan 30 London, UK @ Bush Hall
May 11 Belfast, UK @ Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival
May 12 Dublin, Ireland @ Whelan’s
May 14 Gateshead, UK @ Sage Two
May 15 Manchester, UK @ Band On The Wall
May 16 Bristol, UK @ The Station
May 17 London, UK @ Union Chapel