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Country - Released June 21, 2019 | Big Label Records

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Country - Released November 30, 2018 | Big Label Records

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Aaron Watson opens Vaquero -- his 11th set of original material, but his third since he started making waves on the Billboard charts -- with "Texas Lullaby," a salute to the Lone Star State he calls home. Watson is a proud Texan -- it's very rare to find a Texan who isn't -- but Vaquero navigates the territory between tradition and modernity, sounding strong and open, never making concessions to pop but never adhering to a calcified notion of country, either. Watson is straightforward but nimble, happy to play with familiar sounds -- Vaquero is filled with songs that recall everyone from George Jones to George Strait -- but it always swings back to the present. Often, this materializes through tales of commitment -- much of the album is about being in a long-term relationship -- and that, combined with his allegiance to old-fashioned music, conveys how Watson is devoted to building upon the past, and that is ultimately what gives Vaquero its kick: Aaron Watson is an old-fashioned singer/songwriter, but he applies his traditional values to the present, and that's what makes Vaquero seem fresh. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Country - Released August 24, 2018 | Big Label Records

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Country - Released November 30, 2018 | Big Label Records

On one hand, Aaron Watson's The Road & the Rodeo stays close to his Texas country music, singer/songwriter roots; on the other, this is easily his slickest record to date and swinging for the fences in Nashville. While the album doesn't contain many of the '70s rock-influenced sounds -- enormously compressed electric guitars or crunchy, booming arena rock drums --that are de rigueur for so many Nashville studios in the 21st century (and so popular with contemporary country radio programmers), it's far smoother than the rowdy, good-time honky tonk sounds on his earlier offerings. Evidence of this shift occurred on 2008's Angels & Outlaws, but given mostly reflective material, it was less apparent than it is here. Watson, who wrote or co-wrote over half of the set's 15 numbers, is still open to experimentation, however, letting his opening title cut go on for just over a minute before abruptly cutting off, seemingly in the middle never to return, making the listener think something is wrong with her stereo. Elliot Park's "The Road" kicks things off properly, with an uptempo Telecaster, pedal steel, and fiddle-drenched tale of life and its various adventures cleverly compared to road surfaces. Next up is a cover of Tom Petty's hit "Walls." Watson employs pedal steel and fiddle, and ratchets up the pace, but ultimately it goes nowhere, adding nothing to the song or the album. "Fast Cars and Slow Kisses" was written and recorded as fodder for radio and is virtually indistinguishable from mainstream contemporary country. Bruce Robison's "Drivin' All Night Long" keeps some Texas honky tonk inside its polished Nash Vegas grooves. That said, Texas roots music still looms large in Watson's vision. "God Bless Her Crazy Heart" rocks, but like something out of the prime of Waylon Jennings' and Willie Nelson's live band stomp. "Houston" and "Hollywood" are pure Texas country & western, with loads of swinging steel, popping cut-time basslines, and in-the-pocket shuffling drums. The Road & the Rodeo is a mixed bag that tries to please everybody, and to some degree does, but it also makes the listener wonder just where Watson will go from here. ~ Thom Jurek
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Country - Released November 30, 2018 | Big Label Records

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Country - Released November 30, 2018 | Big Label Records

Aaron Watson runs his own career, and he has been delivering his version of traditional country honky tonk to packed crowds at rodeos, fairs, and honky tonk bars in his native Texas for years now, and through several independent albums as well, doing everything on his own terms. Real Good Time, which clocks in with a generous 18 tracks, shows once again why Aaron Watson is one of the best-kept secrets on the current contemporary country scene.
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Country - Released November 30, 2018 | Big Label Records

If a cowboy is supposed to be a man who lives by his own rules, then Aaron Watson is one of the few real cowboys left in country music. A major star in Texas and the Southwest, Watson has built his career through playing music that's polished but still shows its roots in the Lone Star honky tonk sound, with songs that speak about real emotions and small-town lives without synthesizers or Auto-Tune, and he's avoided the major labels to release his own albums through independent distributor Thirty Tigers instead. And for Watson, the old-fashioned way has paid off; in February 2015, Watson's album The Underdog debuted at number one on the Billboard country albums chart, and came in at number eight on the Top 200 chart, beating out plenty of major-label projects with far bigger promotional budgets. If the success of The Underdog came as a surprise to some, it demonstrates that there's still a healthy audience for traditionalists despite the rise of bro-country, and that hard work, a busy touring schedule, and fostering strong relationships with your fans remains a winning strategy, especially if like Watson you write good songs and have the voice to bring them to life. ~ Mark Deming
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Country - Released November 30, 2018 | Big Label Records

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Country - Released June 21, 2019 | Big Label Records

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Country - Released November 30, 2018 | Big Label Records

Aaron Watson looks too young and cheerful to know much about the honky tonk life, but one spin of San Angelo proves appearances can be deceiving. Watson manages to find a comfortable middle ground between the radio-friendly polish of new country and the tougher sounds that continue to find favor in his home state of Texas, and while the party anthem "Heyday Tonight" may open the album, it's harder-edged tunes about love and heartbreak like "Blame It on Me," "Haunted House," and the title cut that put the meat on this disc's bones. Watson wrote the bulk of the album's 13 songs, with the other selections culled from the songbooks of Willie Nelson, Buddy Holly, Jim Lauderdale, and Bruce Robison, and the fact that Watson's songs don't sound woefully inadequate in comparison says a lot about his talent -- maybe "All American Country Girl" and "Good Thing Going" are a bit lightweight, but "Except for Jessie" is a moving tribute to Waylon Jennings and Jessi Colter, and "Haunted House" is a fine and evocative portrait of a love gone sour. Ray Benson's production is clean but straightforward, and the pickers deliver the goods with class to spare. San Angelo isn't always up to the level of Aaron Watson's influences, but it's modern country music with the heart and soul of classic Lone Star sounds, and it's the work of a young man with plenty of potential. ~ Mark Deming
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Country - Released November 30, 2018 | Big Label Records

Angels & Outlaws continues and amplifies the more reflective mood of Aaron Watson's previous album, San Angelo, as opposed to the honky tonk swing of his first several releases. The title is indicative, because Watson's Christian themes have grown to command an ever larger place in his music, and he spends considerably more time singing about the former than the latter here. Even the threatening hook of album opener "Tulsa" ("Don't let the sun go down on you in Tulsa") is delivered not to a romantic rival, but to someone Watson feels is shirking his God-given duties as a husband and father. It's not exactly Ray Wylie Hubbard's "Up Against the Wall, Redneck Mother," y'know? Although the album is produced, as always, by Asleep at the Wheel's Ray Benson, the honky tonk and Western swing vibe of earlier albums like The Honky Tonk Kid and Shutupanddance is similarly dialed back here in favor of comparatively limp, midtempo country-pop like "Whiskey on the Fire." Even the speedy, fiddle-driven "Wake Up and Smell the Coffee" doesn't really swing, and its cringingly awful lyrics don't help its case much. Suffice to say, when a cover of John Mayer's "Heart of Life" is one of the most heartfelt and soulful songs on the album, it seems Watson might be starting to lose the plot. Big bonus points for getting the cantankerous outlaw country legend Billy Joe Shaver to record a verse of Philippians, though. ~ Stewart Mason
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Country - Released November 30, 2018 | Big Label Records

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Country - Released November 30, 2018 | Big Label Records

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Country - Released January 4, 2019 | Big Label Records

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Ambient/New Age - Released October 5, 2018 | Big Label Records

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Country - Released August 24, 2018 | Big Label Records

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Country - Released January 4, 2019 | Big Label Records

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Country - Released June 22, 2018 | Big Label Records

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Country - Released November 30, 2018 | Big Label Records

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Ambient/New Age - Released October 5, 2018 | Big Label Records