Review from Raleigh News & Observer January 13, 2002
By Jack Bernhardt
Watson’s second solo CD, “Willie’s Redemption “ (Barker Records), is a spirited thoughtful and focused collection of old-time delights drawn from his extensive repertoire of songs and styles. An all-star cast of local pickers sharing Watson’s passion for the old tunes contributes to making it one of the top traditional music recordings of recent years.
Highlights include the fine mesh of Alan Jabbour’s fiddle with Watson’s mandolin on the Uncle Dave Macon/Henry Reed medley “Jordan Is a Hard Road to Travel/Jawbones”; the tenor splendor of the Watson-Leroy Savage duet romp on “If the River Was Whiskey”; the bittersweet melancholy of “Leaving Dear Old Ireland”; and the chill-bump vocal harmonies of Watson with the Williamses (“Sad and Blue”) and Old-Time Herald angel Alice Gerrard (“The Light at the River”).
The disc is a well-worn musical road map to the front porches of the Carter Family, Charlie Poole, Pop Stoneman and Jimmie Rodgers, and Watson guides the trip with his superb, high lonesome tenor and versatile picking. He plays bass, guitar, mandolin and autoharp, and he invites contributions from former Ramblers Mike Craver (piano) and Bill Hicks (fiddle), and other members of the Triangle’s traditional music family. Together they craft a joyful and enduring celebration of the old Southern sound.
June 9, 2002