Most of the time, you’ll find Lee Watson singing, songwriting, and playing guitar for the Canadian group, the Breakmen. But, as with all singer/songwriters, the time eventually comes for a first solo album. Watson’s time has come.
There are 11 songs and all are Watson originals. Providing the instrumental and harmony support are some of the West and Northwest’s finest players, including Ivan Rosenberg on resonator guitar, Julie Elkins on banjo, David Thompson on bass, Greg Spatz on fiddle, and Ben Winship on mandolin.
Over the years, I’ve been impressed by dozens of good singers in bluegrass. Watson puts them all in a new perspective. He is a truly fine vocalist with a lyrical mid-range and an array of abilities. Control, phrasing, inflection, emotion—he brings a high degree of skill to each strength. Listen to the power, clarity, and fullness of expression he brings to the slow country plea of “To The End Of The World.” It doesn’t get much better.
As a songwriter, his tunes expand on classic bluegrass and country melodic motives and, as such, seem instantly comfortable. Consider the hint of “Ashes Of Love” in the opening title track. You’re pulled right in and you remain. Of his lyrics, on the other hand, it can be said that while he stays with standard themes and images, he does offer several fine turns of phrase. His line about selling a fiddle to a blind man in exchange for true sight is but one example. My favorite, however, is “That Rooster He’s The Devil” in which Satan stalks the night in the form of a fowl, his …beak blowing steam. It’s one of the highlights of a debut album full of good songs made all the better by the artist’s truly fine vocals. (Lee Watson, 217 N. 51 St., Seattle, WA 98103, www.leewatsonmusic.com ) BW