Feels like fate must have brought together three already successful alt-folk musicians whose angel voices blend as seamlessly as their strings. The lovely sounds of I’m With Her — the trio of Sarah Jarosz, Aoife O’Donovan and Sara Watkins — are on splendid display in the group’s first full-length album, “See You Around.”
The product of a marathon songwriting session in a Vermont barn and recorded mostly live, the album has a warm, intimate feel even when the undertones are melancholy.
On 12 tunes, the trio swaps lead vocals and guitar instrumentals in tales of love won, lost and in between. Jarosz’s soulful mandolin, a stellar fiddle from Watkins (Nickel Creek) and subtle synth and piano from O’Donovan (Crooked Still) add layered texture.
Jarosz opens the title track in her clear, earthy soprano, a beautiful breakup song with lilting, lush harmonies that make this the one to put on rewind.
Another standout is Gillian Welch’s “Hundred Miles,” a hardship road tale that has Watkins starting off starkly a cappella, her bandmates and instruments joining in at a typically languid Welch pace.
That pacing continues on “Ryland (Under the Apple Tree),” a more upbeat story of summertime pleasures punctuated by O’Donovan’s breathy rasp-tinged voice.
The bluegrass-y instrumental “Waitsfield” opens with a jaunty fiddle and raises a question: Might the title refer to the bucolic Vermont village of the same name? Maybe it was even where the ladies ventured to replenish their supply of Heady Topper beer — the only time, the liner notes say — that they left their songwriting seclusion. Lindsey Tanner, AP