Plains’ first album provides decent country music


Cover Art via Anti-

I Walked with You a Ways, the debut studio album by Plains, was released in October 2022.

Sam Tobiczyk, News Editor

I Walked with You a Ways, the first studio album from new country duo Plains, is a successful collection of alt-country songs.

The group, consisting of Waxahatchee’s Katie Crutchfield and singer-songwriter Jess Williamson, came together in 2020 after they listened to each other’s records. With both of the singers actually being from the South and both having experience writing acclaimed tracks, the quality country expertise evident throughout the tracklist is not surprising.

Take the opener, “Summer Sun,” written by Williamson. It has a warm, familiar country twang, without falling into the many traps of modern country music. The song comes across as a genuine, cozy love song.

Or consider “Hurricane,” written by Crutchfield. The track is an adept, slow, mellow ballad to a romantic partner, using Crutchfield’s layered vocal style to perfection.

Each song from this record achieves a level of country success that is so rarely found in country music nowadays. However, the reason for this record isn’t clear.

The two singers fail to use the benefits of creating an album together. They don’t sing on the same tracks, and they didn’t even write the songs together. 

So what is the point of the record?

Crutchfield found success with St. Cloud in 2020 (as Waxahatchee), and Williamson received acclaim for her 2020 record, Sorceress. The songs on I Walked with You a Ways come across as continuations of these albums rather than a unique creation between the two songwriters.

Crutchfield songs on the LP, like “Problem with It,” come across as songs from a fictional St. Cloud, Part 2, not a collaboration with another alt-country star.

The same applies for Williamson, on a song like “Abilene.” 

The tracks from both songwriters feel very separate, with each singer infusing their style into their own songs, rather than influencing each other. It wouldn’t be a surprise if they both recorded their songs separately, and threw them all on the album when they finished.

This record isn’t bad. I Walked with You a Ways sounds like perfectly crafted alt-country, yet the purpose of the record seems unclear.