The Watson Twins “HOLLER”

Bloodshot, 2023

A live-in-the-studio set that leaps out of your speakers with a vibrant, joyful sound.

Described as “leaning deeper into their Americana and Country roots” Leigh and Chandra Watson’s new album was produced “live in the studio” by Butch Walker. And right from the start of the title song it has an immediacy and punch that is very in the moment. That song has a Southern Rock feel with a stinging slide guitar over big drums. A sound the continues into the honky tonk of ‘Sissy Said’, which adds harmonica to the mix.

‘The Palace’ doesn’t deviate much from the pattern of the previous songs but with a slightly more country rock flavour. They seem to be trying out different aspects of Americana and Country music. ‘Never Be Another You’ is the album’s big ballad, and is the perfect vehicle for The Watson’s harmonies, which are faultless throughout. Butch Walker contributes electric guitar to this song, giving it a change of sound from the single-string lead lines that have dominated until now.  The slightly lacklustre ‘Honky Tonk Heart’ is about the weakest piece on the album. For some reason the guitar fails to strike sparks this time, and the piano sounds like a slightly half-hearted afterthought. But that weakness is only by comparison with the rest of the album, it’s still a good song, perhaps another take would have nailed it.

We are back on track with the handclaps of ‘My Name’ which is one of the songs that really benefits from the freshness of the live recording, guitar and piano are both more convincing here, and it sounds like fund was being had in the studio. The acoustic start of ‘Love You The Best’ could have been overwhelmed by two voices, but careful arrangement carries the melancholy words into the tune, which drifts into a bigger production with strings (presumably keyboard generated) filling up the spaces. Closing the album is ‘Two Timin’, a far more successful honky tonk song. The drums march through the tune and the Twins swoop into 1940s big band singing.

The sound of live in the studio albums can go one of two ways, either sounding flat as the band have little or no audience to bounce off, or as in the case of ‘HOLLER’ become vibrant showcases for the band. A genuinely joyful run through some strong songs. The Watson Twins’ harmonies recall other close harmony country duets without ever aping another style. At just 35 minutes long this is an old-fashioned length album, with many good old-fashioned values, not least of which is that it is a great listen that you can wind back and play again as many times as you like without losing the fresh confident sound of a band at the top of its game.

7/10
7/10

About Tim Martin 247 Articles
Sat in my shed listening to music, and writing about some of it. Occasionally allowed out to attend gigs.
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