You can sum up Jess Williamson’s new record Heart Song in one word: slinky. A collection of seven quiet, sultry tunes that seem to move like hot liquid over a smooth surface, letting off steam as they go, Heart Song is cozy and warm. Williamson harnesses an intimacy with this record, like she’s laying amidst tousled sheets, guitar in hand, just singing to herself. It’s hyper sensitive and bodily, urgent but subtle. Even the album cover, with Williamson drenched in sunlight, implies vulnerability.
Williamson’s songs can be heartbreaking. “White Bed” finds her questioning everything, channeling vintage Alanis Morrisette and plucking gently on the guitar. “Leave your heart open/Open to love,” she sings. “I don’t know what’s beautiful anymore.” There is something so fragile about this and many other tracks on Heart Song. “Devil’s Girl” similarly creeps along slowly and solemnly, with a quiet backing guitar. The way Williamson’s bewitching voice opens and closes, breaks and folds, may remind you a bit of Angel Olsen. There’s a raw spontaneity in her singing, like even she doesn’t know what note will come next.
“See You in a Dream” sweetens things up a bit with a lighter melody, but ultimately, Williamson keeps to her corner. This tune is one of Heart Song’s prettiest. “Who do you blame?” she asks, exploring feelings of shame and regret to a slowed down garage rock beat. Title track “Heart Song” finds Williamson trying to move forward, but being stuck in one place – somewhere she shouldn’t be. “I thought I could change my heart and be the same,” she sings.
But perhaps the slinkiest of the bunch is opening track “Say It”, in which Williamson nearly whispers to a sensual beat, her voice breathy and gorgeous. It’s a song about masochism and she doesn’t hold back from expressing all the parts of it, the gritty, dirty and beautiful.