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

I Walked With You A Ways is Plains' tasteful and stunning tribute to country

"I Walked With You A Ways"

Release date: 14 October 2022
Plains - I Walked A Ways With You cover
18 October 2022, 00:00 Written by Tom Williams

The first, but hopefully not last, collaborative album from Waxahatchee and Jess Williamson was born out of shared admiration - of each other but also of their shared heritage, both musical and geographical. With I Walked With You A Ways, the duo create a loving tribute to small Texas towns and their female country idols - Trio, The Chicks and Emmylou Harris among them.

Much of I Walked With You sounds like a lost country classic, unearthed decades after its release. The decidedly modern sound of Waxahatchee’s most recent LP, Saint Cloud, is replaced by minimalist, timeless and twangier arrangements. The tales told across the album’s 32 minutes, meanwhile, are stepped in enduring country traditions. Highlight “Abilene”, like the best country songs, is rooted firmly by place (in this case, the titular Texas city) as the pair sing of packing up and leaving town.

But like most of I Walked With You’s best songs, it takes a tried-and-true narrative and turns it on its head. “Abilene” is that rare on-the-road song that focuses not on the promise of a new location but on the heartbreak of leaving the one which you spent so long calling home. In the second verse, Williamson paints a devastating portrait of her journey, “Crying on the highway with my windows down”. “Couldn’t hold it together when Abilene fell apart” she admits, downcast, reckoning with the moment at which the picture perfect life you had imagined falls apart.

Opener “Summer Sun” is a similar delight - filled with rich, nostalgia-evoking imagery, it alternately gives into stubbornly enduring, “Stand By Your Man”-esque tropes and subverts them. “And I cook for you like a good woman do” sing the duo at one moment, employing a distinctly Southern syntax, before later signing off defiantly, “I tried to warn you”. The following “Problem With It” is I Walked With You at it’s most anthemic and self-assured - “If it’s all you got an it’s enough, you say / I got a problem with it”, snarls Waxahatchee’s Katie Crutchfield during the song’s infectious country-pop chorus.

I Walked With You A Ways almost certainly won’t go down as the most definitive work of either Crutchfield or Williamson’s career, yet it is unmistakably the work of two phenomenal musicians at their peak. Tasteful, affecting and melodic, it’s genuinely stunning how effortless the duo make creating 10 pristine country songs sound. “I gotta take my time / I’ll get it right, I’ll get it right” assures Crutchfield on “Line Of Sight” - and sure enough, working alongside Williamson and outside of traditional commercial constraints, she creates a modern country masterpiece.

Share article

Get the Best Fit take on the week in music direct to your inbox every Friday

Read next