Video premiere: Jessi Williams & Coyote, ‘Roam, Little Gypsy, Roam’

Jessi Williams
Jessi Williams

The burdens of dual identities — mother and career woman — weigh heavily on Jessi Williams in the exceptionally moving new video for the song, “Roam, Little Gypsy, Roam.” The video is essentially a biopic in under 4 minutes, dreamily portraying the singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist across three stages of life.

The song is the first single from the 2018 self-titled EP from her folk-rock band Jessi Williams and Coyote. The tune was penned for Williams’ longtime pal Margo Price; the pair were running mates back in their single-girl days in Nashville.

The video was co-directed by Kimberly Stuckwisch (who helmed the Grammy-nominated Price’s “All American Made” video) and Melora Donoghue. “Career or family? That’s a choice women have had to make since the dawn of the sexual revolution and beyond,” the directors say. “Today, women are finding ways to choose both, but the path is still paved with hard considerations, compromise and balance.

“By casting three generations of the same family and using clever camera tricks, the story seamlessly moves through a day in the life of our heroine as she is confronted with her past and future selves. Ultimately, in the end she must decide which path to take to fulfill her true ambitions. It’s something we as women deal with daily, but should feel liberated by the freedom to choose.”

Jessi Williams and Coyote (pronounced Kye-Oat) — who are working on new music for release later this year — got their start shortly after she moved to Los Angeles in 2008, her 2-year-old daughter in tow. The band’s exploits were put on hold for several years when Williams joined the L.A. folk-rock band the Lonely Wild. The 2018 EP saw them wrapping up some unfinished business.

Both the song and the video mine Williams’ memories of growing up in a farmhouse where her parents hosted finger-pickin’ parties. The bluegrass tradition informed the country and folk-rock direction Williams’ music took. Eventually, as a young adult, she was in Nashville, where her nights of drinking, smoking and playing music in Price’s basement ended when Williams got pregnant and moved to Kansas.

“Suddenly, my life was strikingly different than the one I’d been living,” Williams says. “Margo wrote a song for me called ‘The Ballad of Jessi Williams.’ I remember it had a great line about trading cigarettes for apron strings. When Margo got married and subsequently pregnant with her boys a few years later, I wrote ‘Roam’ as a ‘response song,’ commenting on our introductions into adulthood.”

It is a transition poignantly on display here.

||| Watch: The video for “Roam, Little Gypsy, Roam”