Monday, July 03, 2006

Blinders On: a review

If you like Nickel Creek (which everyone should), you'll also like Sean Watkins' most recent solo effort from March '06 called Blinders On. Sean is the Nickel Creek guitar player, and this is far and away his finest solo album yet. I knew he was a great guitar player, but here you see what an outstanding all-around musician he is. His sister Sara accompanies him on fiddle on a few of the tracks, but Blinders On is not just another Nickel Creek record. For one thing, Sean uses a lot more instruments and effects. The first couple of times I listened to it, I liked it. The more I listen, the more I like it. The unusual harmonies and unexpected twists and turns of melody are engaging. You gotta get it.

Some of my thoughts on the songs:
  • "Summer's Coming" - clearly a Beach Boys-inspired opening number
  • "Starve Them to Death" - I like the Beatle-esque violin parts
  • "I'm Sorry" - reminds me of "Somebody More Like You" from Why Should the Fire Die
  • "Happy New Year" - again, sounds like Sean has been listening to Brian Wilson & the Beach Boys a lot, especially Pet Sounds . . . he can also rock!
  • "Hello...Goodbye" - over before you know it . . . just Sean and his guitar
  • "Runaway Girl" - very pretty interplay of piano and fiddle
  • "I Say Nothing" - a cool electric guitar solo and more fantastic violins
  • "Coffee" - mesmerizing . . . what is that instrument that sounds like a toy piano???
  • "The Sound of My Crush" - Lennon would be proud
  • "No Lighted Windows" - the good ol' familiar Nickel Creek sound
  • "Cammac" - a little surprise
  • "Roses Never Red" - this song has about every genre in it you can think of! But it works for me.
  • "They Sail Away" - haunting . . . it could fit on Sgt. Pepper!
  • "Not That Bad/Blinders On" - Sean goes techno
  • "Whipping Boy" - just when you think it's over, you get a surprise hidden track: Sean shows his bluegrass side at last . . . fun!
I had the pleasure of meeting Sean at the Nickel Creek concert in Gainesville, FL, earlier this year. He came across as a very humble guy. I wish I had just 1/10 of his talent.

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