Search The Line of Best Fit
Search The Line of Best Fit

Jess Williamson’s Time Ain’t Accidental is an evocative country-pop charmer

"Time Ain't Accidental"

Release date: 09 June 2023
Jess Williamson - Time Ain't Accidental cover
07 June 2023, 09:00 Written by Sam Franzini

Country music often focuses on another person, whether singing about getting a girl, mourning a girl, objectifying a girl, or beer.

But atop a catalogue of Americana albums, Jess Williamson’s latest record Time Ain’t Accidental flips the script — often she is the object of her own scrutiny or praise. “My love is as pure as the universe,” she sings on lead single “Hunter”, “Honest as an ashtray.”

Though she sings of herself as a new-age pioneer of love on “Hunter”, one who goes a little too fast in search of pure, honest romance, she’s not afraid to dissect her own flaws or periods of shortcomings. On the hypnotic “A Few Seasons”, she diminishes herself instead of leaving a man who, she laments, won’t even yearn for her. “Stepped so far out of the way, now no one’s there at all.” “I’d Come to Your Call” and “God In Everything” are filled with the sort of oddball, earnest realizations of oneself that make for such a charming listen — “When I’m down on my knees, when I look in the mirror, I kinda look like you,” she realizes about her partner.

Because of the duality of emotions, she admits within herself, it doesn’t read like someone omitting the bad parts of themselves or bragging about their best attributes, instead, it’s the sound of someone owning their own worth. “Once again I’m offering a radical kind of love, and it’s just the wrong time,” she sings. On “Hunter”, again, one of the album’s finest lines is borne out of an acute understanding of yourself and a romantic situation that’s not working: “Baby, it’s fine, I’d have blown your mind, but I guess I’m gonna give you space.”

During the delightful and quirky title track, she and her partner’s feelings are most matched. Singing about a one-day almost-hookup, Williamson and a longtime friend read Raymond Carver by the pool, daydream about honeymooning in Mexico, all to depart at the end, relinquishing and finding solace in fate – “Torn up over timing, but time ain’t accidental.” Ironically, it might be the most romantic song on the album, its lyricism indicative of the strong emotions one feels during an intense crush: “The way that I’m loving you is like it’s gonna last / Picked you like a petal from my wild rose past.”

God, Williamson can write. It’s consistently the most rewarding part of listening to the record, followed only by her delightfully country twang that comes out when pronouncing certain words like “remember”, “baby”, or “accidental.” She flits between topics like religion, oral sex, desperation, and the promise of new beginnings as easily as they’re thought about in the buzzy neurons of one’s mind. The effect is an immediacy and stickiness all the best country songs emanate, one that makes it feel crucial – life-dependent, even – that its lyrics become lodged in your mind, ready for retrieval to hum at random moments throughout the day.

With lyricism so strong, Time Ain’t Accidental could rely on simple melodies to get its point across, but it doesn't half-ass anything. The title track and “Something in the Way” are both dizzying, a little haphazard; “Hunter” and “Chasing Spirits” are modern pop twists on country, fit for radio; and “God in Everything” and “Stampede” are of a more classic Americana flavour. Exhilaratingly, “A Few Seasons” and “I’d Come to Your Call” are backed with spare instrumentals that tilt a little haunting, evoking the same emotional intensity of something like the ballads on Lorde’s Melodrama. It opens the gates wide for Williamson’s voice to croon out of the darkness, lamenting about false starts and desperate waiting. “I sleep on the floor ‘til you pat on the bed,” she admits.

Time Ain’t Accidental is an endlessly charming record, mixing heart, humour, and personal growth into one complex and ambitious work. Williamson’s voice, writing, and sound have all evolved leaps from her previous albums, and Time Ain’t Accidental stands tall among masterful country-pop crossover records like Speak Now or Golden Hour that made their authors superstars.

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