A band of extraordinary chemistry and exquisite musicianship, I’m With Her features Sara Watkins, Sarah Jarosz, and Aoife O’Donovan. Collectively, the multi-Grammy-Award-winners have released seven solo efforts, co-founded two seminal bands (Nickel Creek and Crooked Still), and contributed to critically acclaimed albums from a host of esteemed artists. But from its very first moments, their full-length debut See You Around reveals the commitment to creating a wholly unified band sound. With each track born from close songwriting collaboration, I’m With Her builds an ineffable magic from their finespun narratives and breathtaking harmonies. The result is a concert both emotionally raw and intricate.
The group shows uncompromising honesty with their songwriting. That intensity is heightened by the band’s effortless harmonizing, which the New York Times has praised as “sweetly ethereal, or as tightly in tandem as country sibling teams like the Everly Brothers, or as hearty as mountain gospel.”
Layered with lush guitar tones and crystalline harmonies, I’m With Her infuses their sonic palette with so many unexpected and subtly captivating elements: the jagged guitar lines and chanteuse-like delivery of “I-89,” the percussive vocal phrasing of “Game to Lose,” the ghostly harmonies and eerie atmospherics of “Wild One.” At the same time, the band’s finely wrought lyrics gently shift from the darkly charged storytelling of “Pangaea” to the sleepy sensuality of “Ryland (Under the Apple Tree)” to the romantic travel tale of “Overland.” And on the Gillian Welch-penned “Hundred Miles.”
I’m With Her exhibits a refined musicality that reflects their deep musical roots. After years of crossing paths in their intersecting scenes, the three musicians came together by happenstance for an off-the-cuff performance at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival in summer 2014. The very same day, a mutual friend texted them with a last-minute request to open a show that night at the Sheridan Opera House. “We had two hours to prepare for a 30-minute set and we said, ‘Let’s do it, let’s skip margaritas and rehearse,” O’Donovan recalls. “We worked up six or seven songs in the bathroom, and then went on to this crazy-energetic crowd at one in the morning. I’ll never forget how amazing that felt.”
Although I’m With Her spent most of 2015 performing at festivals around the world, the band also holed up for their first-ever writing session that summer in L.A. “By that point it had started to solidify that we travel well together, play well together, eat well together — it felt like we’d tested our compatibility in all these different zones,” says Watkins. And after just four days of writing, it was clear that their compatibility extended to the art of songcraft. “I loved the songs, we all loved the songs,” says Jarosz of that first batch of tracks penned in L.A. “I think that really sparked the flame for us to make a full record together.”