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Young In All the Wrong Ways

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Album Review

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.

Customer Reviews

Different And Beautiful

Contrary to what a previous review implied, Sara Watkins' voice is front and center, and the emotional quality of her voice and of the songs is given a stately power by the big but unfussy sound. This album is a triumph, beginning to end.

Very well surprised!!!

This was a very welcomed surprise tonight! The normal melodic folk/bluegrass staple from Ms. Watkins is great, but I really enjoied the energetic electric work and the upbeat spirit of the album. More please!!!

Another Watkins Gem

Great songs, great voice. I love everything I hear from Sara (and her brother Sean too).


Born: June 8, 1981 in Vista, CA

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Fiddle player and singer/songwriter Sara Watkins was born on June 8, 1981, in Santa Monica, California, and first began performing professionally in 1989 in an early version of the group that became Nickel Creek. Released in 2000, Nickel Creek's self-titled debut album was produced by Alison Krauss and peaked in the Top 20 of the Billboard country chart; it remained on the list for more than a year. The group's second album, 2002's This Side, built upon its predecessor's success by reaching number...
Full Bio