With her new Young In All the Wrong Ways LP, Sara Watkins steps firmly out of the bluegrass frame and continues on a path of personal and musical evolution that sees the Nickel Creek co-founder declaring the strength of her own person. The album, which comes out Friday, July 1st via New West Records, is up on NPR Music’s First Listen for a week of advance streaming.
NPR’s Jewly Hight explored the themes of the album, catching onto a few key changes in Watkins’ approach to music and viewpoint. Hight writes:
That [2009’s Sun Midnight Sun] introduced a newfound bite in her musical ideas and performances was lost on those who’d pegged her as a sweet and sunny innocent. But on this latest 10-song collection — every bit of which she either wrote or co-wrote, and very little of which prominently features her fiddle playing, though it was produced by another highly accomplished fiddler in Gabe Witcher — she speaks a language of cutting clarity.
The title track opens the album and sets the tone. Watkins momentarily loses herself in lulling wistfulness, only to lurch into a rebuke of naïveté, bearing down on her scorn for once-automatic acquiescence over spiky eruptions of electric guitar and a tumultuous drum groove. “I’m going out to see about my own frontier,” she insists twice in a row, sounding determinedly detached. Watkins isn’t acting out belated rebellion so much as disrupting comfortable certainty and fleshing out an adult, feminine vantage point — one that chooses which attachments to cultivate.
Listen to Young In All the Wrong Ways below and pick up tickets for her World Cafe Live show on September 28th here.
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