Last Music (label)
13 September 2019 (released)
13 September 2019
We are talking about a career that spans Red Beans & Rice & Juice On The Loose in his early days along with stints with Dr Feelgood, Eric Clapton, Rory Gallagher, Shakin’ Stevens, Van Morrison and a slew of solo albums, the last of which was ‘In A Bad Mood’ released in 2008.
This album sees a more bucolic mood – very much in a country/Americana vein and I would say that it is some of his best songwriting yet. He has some fine musicians around him with Simon Ratcliffe and Little George Sueref the most recognizable names but the album is very much Watkins and his dark and soft vocals really carry his emotive side to the fore.
The songs are mainly reflective, often deeply emotional but there is humour here as well and he avoids the trap of making a downer of an album by leavening the introspection with some joyful material as well.
There isn’t a weak number on the album but I personally adore ‘Hold Back ’ with its cheesy organ sound and a wonderful vocal from Watkins and Sueref plus harmonica from Sueref. He hits the mark beautifully with ‘I Got The Blues’ which is just that.
One of the other terrific numbers is ‘Middle Of The Night’ where Watkins voice seems to drop an octave and he carries hurts and troubles to the song. The strings are very low in the mix, giving all the foreground to Watkins vocal – stirring and moving.
I really can’t fault the album, either the songwriting, the playing or the production – it works at every level.