What’s this in my mailbox?
Why, it’s an advance copy of the new self-titled solo project from Sara Watkins, courtesy of the good folks at Nonesuch Records. Featuring an impressive ensemble of folkies that includes (among others) Gillian Welch, David Rawlings, Tim O’Brien, Ronnie McCoury, and Rayna Gellert, as well as Nickel Creek bandmates Chris Thiele and Sean Watkins (also her brother), this record is a wide-ranging exploration of luscious harmony and virtuosic violin. From sunny pop-folk to dark mountain ballads, bouncy ragtime to Western swing, Sara Watkins is a journey I’ll take any time. Look for the release of this lovely collection on April 7.
Sara is of course known as the fiddler from Granny-winning alternative bluegrass band Nickel Creek, of which she has been a part for about twenty years. She’s 27 years old now—you do the math. She wrote half of the 11 songs on this release, and her compositions sit comfortably next to those of John Hartford, Jimmie Rodgers, Tom Waits, and Norman Blake. As a singer, Sara exhibits a lazy, soulful confidence that doesn’t hesitate to savor the spaces between the notes, as well as the liquid tones of her fiddle and voice.
The record was produced by John Paul Jones, who played bass with Led Zeppelin back in the day. “I can’t imagine anyone else with whom I would have felt more confident or comfortable,” said Sara on the Nonesuch website. “I think his undeniable musicianship and kindness made the ensemble on each song sound like a band that had played together for years.”