Sean Watkins is one of the founding members of the Nickel Creek bluegrass/new acoustic band, along with his sister, fiddler Sara 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.
Sean Watkins "Let It Fall" (Sugar Hill, 2001)
A syrupy solo album by the guitarist of the popgrass crossover band, Nickel Creek. Presumably this mostly-instrumental outing is intended to demonstrate his chops as a picker, yet it sticks so closely to the saccharine tradition of Nickel Creek that it doesn't do much to differentiate his work from theirs. The album opens with "Neo's Song," which sounds like a watered-down version of Tony Rice's note-bending flatpicking style; the rest of the album gets progressively muzak-ier and Windham Hill-ish. Watkins has lots of technical facility, but his artistic instincts are hopelessly bland.
Sean Watkins "26 Miles" (Sugar Hill, 2003)
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...
Sean Watkins "Blinders On" (Sugar Hill, 2006)
There's a tiny bit of twang mixed in there somewhere, but as with many Nickel Creek-related albums, soft pop is the predominant sound, with baroque, electronica-ish layering in the mix to spice things up. Some songs are fairly catchy, particularly the opening track, "Summer's Coming," but for the most part the mental and musical meandering seems pretty mild and unchallenging. Which is the point, I think -- if you're a fan, looking for something mellow to zone out on, this is a nice record, easy on the ears and consistent with the direction that Nickel Creek and their various solo projects has taken for the last few years.
Fiction Family "Fiction Family" (ATO, 2009)
Fiction Family "Holiday EP" (lowercase people, 2012)
Fiction Family "Fiction Family Reunion" (Rock Ridge Music, 2013)
Hick Music Index