Diving deeper into music, one learns that only the weakest relationship seems to exist between quality and success. It’s affirming, then, that I’m With Her achieved success with See You Around (Rounder Records), the superb album the trio released earlier this year. In March, they sold out DC’s 9:30 club, a storied venue with a capacity of 1200.
See You Around came with high expectations given the three accomplished artists involved—Sara Watkins, Sarah Jarosz, and Aoife O’Donovan. I’m With Her had been generating a lot of buzz with festival appearances, and with their cover of John Hiatt’s “Crossing Muddy Waters,” released as a single in 2015. This album will satisfy fans of Watkins, Jarosz, and O’Donovan, and it captures the energy of the live performances that made their act a hit.
See You Around shines in its three-part harmonies. In the moments, and there are such moments on every track, when all three women share equally in vocal harmony, this record is sublime. Their register, their volume, every aspect of their singing is in perfect balance, like a seamless, delicious layer cake of sound. When you hear it, you’ll just want to let the sound drip down your down ears like sweet, sweet sugar rolling down your tongue.
The three-part harmonies on See You Around are so intoxicating they can blind the listener to just how many strengths this album has. All three women are fine multi-instrumentalists: Watkins on violin, guitar, bass, and fiddle; Jarosz on banjo, mandolin, and guitar; and O’Donovan on guitar. (On other group recordings, O’Donovan has played keys.) And while the album soars in its three-part harmonies, each woman more than holds her own as a lead.
Compelling songs serve as the foundation for See You Around. None is more compelling than “Overland,” an epic of family struggle during the expansion of America and the growth of the railroads. The song opens:
Goodbye brother, hello railroad
So long, Chicago
All these years thought I was where I ought to be
But times are changing
This country’s growing
And I’m bound for San Francisco
The song goes on to impress upon the listener the pain, the hardship, the struggle of life in the nineteenth century.
If you haven’t heard See You Around yet, you need to check out I’m With Her. This supremely talented Americana trio has likely only begun to leave their mark. https://www.imwithherband.com/