Fiddler Sara Watkins is one of the founding members of the Nickel Creek bluegrass/new acoustic band, along with her brother, fiddler/mandolinist Sean Watkins and multi-instrumentalist Chris Thile. Child prodigies who moved from novelty status to stardom and stylistic innovations, each of the Nickel Creek members have worked outside the band on various solo and collaborative efforts... Here's a quick look at Watkins' own solo work.
Mutual Admiration Society "MAS" (Sugar Hill, 2004)
(Produced by Ethan Johns)
A quickie jam session with Glen Phillips of the rock band Toad the Wet Sprocket... Chris, Sara and Sean give the rocker a more acoustic-based setting, with additional musical contributions by various folks in their orbit...
Sara Watkins "Sara Watkins" (Nonesuch, 2009)
(Produced by John Paul Jones)
Although her bluegrass roots are on display -- with contributions from Ronnie McCoury, Tim O'Brien and others -- there's also a strong and decisive rock'n'roll element as well, from the album's Led Zep-alum producer to guest performers such as Elvis Costello and Tom Petty. Not a pure twang set, by any means, but a lot of talent concentrated in one small record.
Sara Watkins "Sun Midnight Sun" (ATO, 2012)
(Produced by Blake Mills)
The second solo album by fiddler Sara Watkins, formerly of the band Nickel Creek... This shows Watkins going much further into pop and pop-folk experimentalism, much of it which I find, frankly, a bit dreadful or dreary. But I'm a grumpy old stick-in-the-mud, so take what I say with a grain of salt. Some tracks I like -- the simpler ones, generally -- but the songs with big, grand, ambitious arrangements leave me cold. This is a brief album, with several high-power guest performers such as Fiona Apple and Jackson Browne and will doubtless pique the interest of her longtime fans... But I'm too much of a rootsy traditionalist, I guess. I won't begrudge Watkins or her fans for their explorations into further lands, but I'll still be cuddled up with my old Stanley Brothers albums instead...
Hick Music Index