"Folk Singer, Vol. 1" by Willie Watson on iTunes

10 Songs

EDITORS’ NOTES

As a member of Old Crow Medicine Show, singer/guitarist Willie Watson filtered folk, country, and other influences into a (relatively) more contemporary Americana sound. But for his first solo effort, in a boom time for neo-folk, Watson elected to go all the way back to his roots with a record full of old folk and blues tunes. It's the sort of thing that fell out of common practice after the '60s singer/songwriter revolution, which makes Folk Singer Vol. 1 feel even more engagingly anachronistic. While there are real-deal folk songs of the sort one would have found on an early album by the likes of Dave Van Ronk or Joan Baez ("Stewball," "Long John Dean"), Watson also dips into folk-flavored blues by tackling Memphis Slim's ominous "Mother Earth," Charley Jordan's saucy "Keep It Clean," and Leadbelly's gospel-tinged "Midnight Special." He keeps the settings appropriately old-school as well, limiting his accompaniment to his own acoustic guitar and banjo. Aligning with a sympathetic producer in Gillian Welch's guitarist, David Rawlings, Watson proves a worthy warrior on the trad-folk front.

EDITORS’ NOTES

As a member of Old Crow Medicine Show, singer/guitarist Willie Watson filtered folk, country, and other influences into a (relatively) more contemporary Americana sound. But for his first solo effort, in a boom time for neo-folk, Watson elected to go all the way back to his roots with a record full of old folk and blues tunes. It's the sort of thing that fell out of common practice after the '60s singer/songwriter revolution, which makes Folk Singer Vol. 1 feel even more engagingly anachronistic. While there are real-deal folk songs of the sort one would have found on an early album by the likes of Dave Van Ronk or Joan Baez ("Stewball," "Long John Dean"), Watson also dips into folk-flavored blues by tackling Memphis Slim's ominous "Mother Earth," Charley Jordan's saucy "Keep It Clean," and Leadbelly's gospel-tinged "Midnight Special." He keeps the settings appropriately old-school as well, limiting his accompaniment to his own acoustic guitar and banjo. Aligning with a sympathetic producer in Gillian Welch's guitarist, David Rawlings, Watson proves a worthy warrior on the trad-folk front.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5

70 Ratings

WHAT A VOICE

rcpc22003,

Saw Willie last night in Athens at the Green Room. It was such a pleasure to hear that pure, powerful voice again. He has so much range and sounds amazing whether the song is folksy, bluesy, or country. I cant wait for this album to be released and I am so glad that Willie is back.

No words.

HotRod1930,

Saw Willie in Knoxville and I have never seen a more powerful solo performance. He has more talent than everyone in Old Crow combined and needs no band. He's better off by himself.

About Willie Watson

Folksinger, multi-instrumentalist (guitar, banjo, harmonica), and sometimes songwriter Willie Watson heard a Lead Belly record when he was 12 years old and his musical course was set. Growing up in Watkins Glen, New York, Watson listened to his father's record collection, which included plenty of artists like Bob Dylan and Neil Young, as well as Lead Belly, and later he discovered Harry Smith's famous folk anthology, all of which informed the style and substance of the traditional and old-time music Watson would make his own. He was one of the founding members of the Old Crow Medicine Show, a quintet that specialized in a traditional American string band sound and had left-field platinum success with a revamped Bob Dylan song, "Wagon Wheel," in the late '90s, recording and touring with the group for some 17 years before leaving to go solo in 2011. He released his debut solo album, Folk Singer, Vol. 1, produced by David Rawlings, early in 2014 on Rawlings and Gillian Welch's Acony Records imprint. ~ Steve Leggett

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