Willie Watson

FOLK SINGER VOL. 1

Acony Records 171

A competent solo debut from the ex memberofOld Crow Medicine Show After going solo, Willie Watson trawled through all his old 78s and came up with a set often songs ranging from folk standards to obscure gems. Accompanying himself on guitar or banjo and occasional mouth harp, his high lonesome vocals are pretty well suited to his old-timey style.The album is totally unadorned and has a bit of a ‘busking’ feel to it. By selecting a number of well covered standards, comparisons are inevitable but Willie is clever enough to stamp his own mark on them. The opening track. Midnight Special has been covered by just about everybody and Willie’s inspiration was the Leadbelly version. Stewball, Rock, Salt and Nails are other well known gems but Willie is at his best playing the blues when his guitar work really comes to the fore. James Alley Blues, recorded by New Orleans-born Richard ‘Rabbit’ Brown is a dark-laced song about women’s troubles in no uncertain times; brilliant. Keep it Clean, written by St. Louis blues singer Charley Jordan is another highlight but Gus Cannon and the Jug Stompers’ Bring It With You When You Come and the slow grinding Mother Earth really stand out. Producer David Rawlins has certainly done a great job in the Woodland Sound Studios he co-owns with Gillian Welch. After a few plays it’s easy to forget some of these numbers have been heard many times before. John Roffey

www.williewatson.com

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