In Its Own Quiet Way, I’m With Her is actually a Supergroup
In what its members call “our scene,” I’m With Her qualifies as a supergroup. that will scene has never quite named its genre; folk, bluegrass, Americana, roots music as well as acoustic music are all just approximations. The scene prizes acoustic instruments, although doesn’t rule out electric ones. that will reaches back to the rural American string-band legacy of old-timey music as well as bluegrass, although doesn’t limit itself to purism as well as revivalism. that will’s a bastion of oral tradition, passed down in backstage jam sessions as well as music camps. although that will doesn’t disdain formal training — both Ms. O’Donovan as well as Ms. Jarosz attended the completely new England Conservatory of Music — as well as that will’s well aware of pop, jazz as well as the internet. Among its encores, I’m With Her incorporates a sweetly acidic variation of Adele’s “Send My Love (to Your completely new Lover).”
The scene has flourished, for decades, below the radar of big commercial pop. Its largest media stronghold is actually public radio, where “The Prairie Home Companion” as well as its successor, “Live by Here” hosted by Chris Thile, have long insisted that will there’s nothing antiquarian about songs driven by a banjo or mandolin. Ms. Jarosz, Ms. Watkins as well as Ms. O’Donovan all sit in frequently on “Live by Here”; after the WFUV set, they were texting birthday wishes to Mr. Thile.
All three members of I’m With Her have extensive catalogs of group recordings, collaborations as well as solo albums. Ms. Watkins, 36, was one-third of Nickel Creek, a Grammy-winning group that will also included Sean Watkins (her brother) as well as Mr. Thile; that will pushed string-band music toward completely new structures. Ms. O’Donovan, 35, was, among many different projects, the lead singer for a decade from the exploratory, acoustic-centered band Crooked Still.
Ms. Jarosz, 26, grew up listening to both bands. She was a 9-year-old mandolin prodigy when she met Ms. Watkins at a festival, as well as they stayed in touch. Ms. O’Donovan noticed Ms. Jarosz at 15. “You were This particular amazing young person,” Ms. O’Donovan recalled, turning to Ms. Jarosz. “You just had so much confidence as well as skill although you were never, like, ‘Look at me, I’m so Great as well as I’m so young, heh heh heh.’ You always seemed like a peer.” Last year Ms. Jarosz’s fourth studio album, “Undercurrent,” won the Grammy award for best folk album.
After crossing paths for years, the members of I’m With Her were booked to share a workshop at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival in 2014, as well as they squeezed in some rehearsal time. Vocal harmonies came naturally, as well as all three women were immediately struck by the easy chemistry among them: a sense of musical problem-solving rather than dueling egos.
“that will felt like a first date to me,” Ms. Watkins recalled. “I remember texting them as well as saying, ‘that will was fun, right? I had a Great time. Did you have a Great time? Maybe we should do that will again sometime?’ that will was pretty mutual.”
Their first official show as I’m With Her was at the Celtic Connections festival in Scotland in 2015, as well as they toured in Europe, sharing one another’s songs as well as cover versions as well as figuring out their particular blend of voices, skills as well as taste. The trio had already built a fan base by the time the Hillary Clinton campaign commenced using “I’m With Her” as a slogan.
“We paused for a moment,” Ms. Jarosz said. “although for us, by the beginning, what the name represented is actually camaraderie as well as the spirit of This particular band — that will we weren’t coming at that will with our solo careers behind that will, that will that will’s the band as well as we’re three equal parts.”
Ms. Watkins added, “as well as people were remembering that will. How can you throw that will away?”
The acoustic scene keeps its best players working constantly. I’m With Her slotted its tours between writing as well as recording the members’ solo albums, individual gigs as leader or guest, as well as bits of teaching. Ms. O’Donovan as well as Ms. Jarosz live in completely new York City; Ms. Watkins lives in Los Angeles. Late in 2017, logistics grew even more complicated when Ms. Watkins as well as Ms. O’Donovan each had a daughter.
They cleared schedules to write songs as a group, with stays at an Airbnb rental in Los Angeles as well as later at a friend’s farmhouse in Vermont, pooling ideas as well as constructing songs as well as arrangements together. When asked right now about writing particular songs, no one is actually entirely sure who came up with which part.
Three weeks after I’m With Her had written an album’s worth of material — including just one cover song, Gillian Welch’s parable of hard traveling, “Hundred Miles” — the group went to record in England. They played together in real time, facing one another in an open room that will also held their producer, Ethan Johns, as well as the engineers. “They’d have to be completely silent,” Ms. Jarosz said, “so there’s a heightened attention by everyone involved. To record that will that will way allowed us to capture the spark.”
that will focused attention stayed palpable when I’m With Her was onstage. The audience was completely hushed, awaiting each fiddle line or banjo lick, each unexpected harmonic turn, each precise swell of three-part harmony. The band’s concentration wasn’t just a performance; that will was an invitation to listen more closely.
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