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March 31, 2023

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Sean Watkins
26 Miles (Sugar Hill Records)

By: Mark A. Lawrence the IV

This album sounds like the soundtrack to a really bad 70's Drama, one that is impossible to stay awake through. I waited in vein this whole CD for Sean Watkins to sing in the right vocal range or for the pitch change of adolescence to hit. I would have taken either one. Another problem that plagued this CD were that the instrumentals, though masterful, lasted much too long and effectively killed the momentum of the album. As for lyrics, they lacked the significance that grabs you an identifies the work of a good song writer. The worst case of lyrical mishap was the lack of enough lyrics to fill the space in "letters never sent" which Watkins unsuccessfully tries to fill with doo-wop filler. The greatest frustration was that most of the songs just felt empty. "26 Miles" was the exception with the best feel of all the songs, having a beat more related to Hip Hop and that surprisingly mixed well with the defused bluegrass elements that have followed Watkins from the Nickel Creek sound. This song also carries the feel of better comfort with material and range. As for examples of effective instrumentals, "Creeping Beauty" has an effectively short and sweet length, providing a cool little play on the stand up bass. The album as a whole lacked any powerful or emotionally grabbing songs that I look for in a album. I'd like to see what Watkins could do if he took more time to focus on his material and skills and gave himself some real room from the Nickel Creek sound. Rating: D
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