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Kinderen - Verschenen op 26 maart 2021 | New West Records

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Ostensibly a children's record meant as bedtime lullabies full of optimism, Sara Watkins' new album is also an ideal salve for adults. The singer-songwriter-fiddler extraordinaire, known for her work with the "progressive bluegrass" band Nickel Creek as well as her own lovely solo albums, has created an album like no other. There is no turning alt-rock tunes into kids' stuff here, or any of the repetitive baby talk that makes parents want to bang their heads against a wall. Watkins chooses some of the prettiest classics imaginable and handles them with extreme cares. The album opens with "Pure Imagination"—aka "the Willy Wonka song"—and it's magical: filled with dramatic pauses and the singer's signature flourishes. Her warm voice wavers like butterfly wings, the slight California bluegrass twang dipping in and out, against fluttering strings. Each song slides directly into the next with barely a delay, and "Pure Imagination" is a perfect match for Disney's "Second Star on the Right," which then slips into an absolutely delightful version of "Blue Shadows on the Trail," reuniting Watkins with Nickel Creek bandmates Sean Watkins (her guitarist brother) and Chris Thile. Their harmonizing on lines like "all of the doggies are in the corral, all of your work is done" is pure comfort and joy, and a nod to the Watkins siblings' childhood performances at Western conventions. It's one of two tracks first made famous by Roy Rogers, along with "Tumblin' Tumbleweeds," for which Watkins is joined by I'm With Her bandmates Sarah Jarosz and Aoife O'Donovan. There are enchanting covers of "Moon River" and the Jiminy Cricket charmer "When You Wish Upon a Star," along with two originals: the ballad "Night Singing" and the instrumental title song, a wisp of tremulous fiddle. Watkins duets with Dawes frontman Taylor Goldsmith on a jaunty cover of Harry Nilsson's "Blanket for a Sail"—accompanied by gentle percussion, its melody rolls like ebb-current waves—and guitarist Davíd Garza on the Stephen Foster serenade "Beautiful Dreamer." She also teams up with her own young daughter for an impossibly delicate "Edelweiss," seemingly breathing the words more than singing them so as not to overwhelm the toddler's sweetness. It's all retro in the best possible way. © Shelly Ridenour/Qobuz
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Country - Verschenen op 3 april 2009 | Nonesuch

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Pop - Verschenen op 8 mei 2012 | Nonesuch

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Country - Verschenen op 1 juli 2016 | New West Records

Don't read too much into the title of Young in All the Wrong Ways, Sara Watkins' third solo album. Certainly, the Nickel Creek singer/violinist isn't necessarily acting deliberately youthful here -- the record isn't as brightly pop as its 2012 predecessor, Sun Midnight Sun -- but that doesn't mean that bluegrass factors heavily into the equation either. Young in All the Wrong Ways does make feints to roots music -- if it weren't for the stylishly sculpted fuzz guitar, "The Truth Won't Set Us Free" could be suited for a honky tonk hardwood floor, while "One Last Time" contains some fleet-fingered picking -- but the record feels settled and assured as it leans into its maturation. A large part of its charm lies in its ease. Watkins never is particularly forceful -- she seems to lead from her voice, reveling in its lightness but also letting it bruise when it verges toward heartbreak -- but she's certainly considered, choosing her topics and tempos with care. Young in All the Wrong Ways underscores this sense of craft by accentuating steady, almost thundering, rock rhythms, anxious guitars, and also delicately structured ballads that function as tonic to the bold incidents elsewhere. It's a brief album, ten songs lasting no longer than 41 minutes, but it feels deep due to its nicely shifting sounds and styles, not to mention the sense that Watkins is setting into her own skin here. She's never seemed awkward -- the opposite, really, releasing her first album with Nickel Creek when she was a teenager -- but what makes Young in All the Wrong Ways resonate is how it touches upon her bluegrass and folk roots while feeling entirely different: the work of a musician who is integrating the whole of her influences into an idiosyncratic voice. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Kinderen - Verschenen op 27 januari 2021 | New West Records

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Country - Verschenen op 27 mei 2016 | New West Records

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Kinderen - Verschenen op 17 februari 2021 | New West Records

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Kinderen - Verschenen op 10 maart 2021 | New West Records

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Country - Verschenen op 1 juli 2016 | New West Records

Don't read too much into the title of Young in All the Wrong Ways, Sara Watkins' third solo album. Certainly, the Nickel Creek singer/violinist isn't necessarily acting deliberately youthful here -- the record isn't as brightly pop as its 2012 predecessor, Sun Midnight Sun -- but that doesn't mean that bluegrass factors heavily into the equation either. Young in All the Wrong Ways does make feints to roots music -- if it weren't for the stylishly sculpted fuzz guitar, "The Truth Won't Set Us Free" could be suited for a honky tonk hardwood floor, while "One Last Time" contains some fleet-fingered picking -- but the record feels settled and assured as it leans into its maturation. A large part of its charm lies in its ease. Watkins never is particularly forceful -- she seems to lead from her voice, reveling in its lightness but also letting it bruise when it verges toward heartbreak -- but she's certainly considered, choosing her topics and tempos with care. Young in All the Wrong Ways underscores this sense of craft by accentuating steady, almost thundering, rock rhythms, anxious guitars, and also delicately structured ballads that function as tonic to the bold incidents elsewhere. It's a brief album, ten songs lasting no longer than 41 minutes, but it feels deep due to its nicely shifting sounds and styles, not to mention the sense that Watkins is setting into her own skin here. She's never seemed awkward -- the opposite, really, releasing her first album with Nickel Creek when she was a teenager -- but what makes Young in All the Wrong Ways resonate is how it touches upon her bluegrass and folk roots while feeling entirely different: the work of a musician who is integrating the whole of her influences into an idiosyncratic voice. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Country - Verschenen op 22 april 2016 | New West Records

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Pop - Verschenen op 29 januari 2010 | Nonesuch

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Sara Watkins in het magazine