“Time Ain’t Accidental” by Jess Williamson (Mexican Summer)
Jess Williamson’s fifth solo album “Time Ain’t Accidental” incarnates 2023 through a lyrical road trip that unpacks America, its western landscapes, reckless storms and evanescent roots, transforming country music’s legacy into her own search for redemption.
Merging the grit of heartbreak with the lyricism of repair, Williamson’s voice ranges like tobacco smoke ascending into electric sunrises that beam into the full moon as mellow acoustics, brass, beats and sonic twists ground the soundscapes of the winding path. Her lyrics question genres, like the lies behind her dubious love song “now that the love is gone" and they argue with classic norms of the country song, “I'm not a good woman if I leave or if I stay" and her transitions play on each other, “Whatcha take me for?" as she answers “Take me for a ride."
Love is both a delusion and a cure as her lyrics trace her roots in Texas, reinvention in California and all the pitstops in between. It slowly slips away in “A Few Seasons,” an ode to its loss. It's “as pure as the universe, honest as an ashtray” in “Hunter,” her anthem for self-possession. Later, in “Roads,” she feels a hurricane in her heart, hail storm in her head, a tornado blowing through her bones for her lover.
Her sense of self wanders from wondering if she’s “a one-time dream or a country queen" in “Topanga Two Step” and how she compares to the “women in boots, with their long hair in tassels” in “God in Everything.” Williamson roves between her wanting to leave LA, where she could “start a garden with the landlord” in “Chasing Spirits" and being “kept between the bridal and being built to run” in “I'd Come to Your Call.” Time wavers between the one sun and one moon at her fountain of her youth in “Tobacco Two Step” and the days before her broken heart when she read her lover “Raymond Carver by the pool bar like a lady" in “Time Ain't Accidental.”
She's at her best when the rich details of her past morph into the surrounding terrains, metaphors like the stormy weather of love that fade into waterways of searching for closure. Mapping her heart along the desert zephyrs, country stores and two-step bars, Williamson ventures through heartache in all its pain and glory.
More AP music reviews: https://apnews.com/hub/music-reviews
Amancai Biraben, The Associated Press