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Sara Watkins

Sara Watkins – 2009 (Nonesuch)

Reviewed by Greg Yost

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CDs by Sara Watkins

As a member of Nickel Creek, Sara Watkins' considerable contributions as a musician, vocalist and songwriter were often overshadowed by the sheer presence, charisma and talent of mandolin wiz Chris Thile. But now with the release of her solo debut, Watkins steps out from behind that large shadow and asserts herself as an artist worthy of the spotlight.

Back in 2000, Watkins and her Nickel Creek mates (Thile and her brother Sean Watkins) joined forces with singer/songwriter Glen Phillips from Toad The Wet Sprocket to form the side project Mutual Admiration Society. The group released an album in 2004 and toured with the legendary John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin on bass. Now, several years down the road, Jones has teamed with Watkins again produce her album.

Watkins presents many different sides of her musical personality with a delightful mix of covers and originals. Although the album features a veritable "who's who" list of contemporary acoustic musicians, the real star her is Watkins' voice. Her flowing and expressive delivery is both welcoming and comfortable and wraps around listeners like a warm blanket on songs like My Friend Where Will You Be, the closing statement. While Watkins' voice is showcased, her talents as a fiddle player are also highlighted. The two instrumental tracks Freiderick and Jefferson allow Watkins to show-off her chops while giving a nod to her bluegrass background.