Aaron Watson surprised many people in 2015 when his independently released album The Underdog went to number 1 on the country album chart. The Underdog began a stream of non mainstream artists having monster album sales and success while gerrymandered pop singers who had number 1 hits on country radio could not sell anything. The Underdog had some really great moments including the best song on the album “Bluebonnets” which described how short life is and how important that it is to make the most of the little time that we get to live. Watson has released ten albums in his career and has stuck to his guns making genuine country music that he should be proud of while also maintaining some commercial sensibilities. He is a great example of the direction mainstream country should go in. I was truly excited to hear Watson’s newest album Vaquero which was released on Friday February 24th.
Highlights: The beginning of “The Arrow” reminds me so much of a song that you would find on Natalie Hemby’s Puxico with a soft acoustic sound. It sounds as though this song was meant as a message to his child which is something that he did on his last album. He tries to convey life lessons that he has learned in along the road. Things like being a good person, chasing your dreams and being tough. Another song about one of his children is the final track on the album “Diamonds and Daughters.” The moment that he laid eyes on his daughter he was brought to tears. Like diamonds, daughter’s are precious and few. She sparkles and shines just like a diamond.”One Two Step At a Time” is great for lovers of steel guitar. This song made me laugh when I heard the line “No she don’t dance with cowboys wearing skinny jeans.” I immediately pictured Luke Bryan out on a dance floor being rejected by this woman who wants a real cowboy. The albums title track starts out with the narrator sitting next to an old Mexican cowboy at a bar. The old man tells him that he’s a little short on cash but, he would be glad to trade him some advice for a shot of tequila. This song like much of the album has a Spanish vibe musically and is one of a few songs that mentions Mexico or a Mexican person. Another song with a Mexican story comes from “Clear Isabel.” Isabel is the daughter of a Mexican lawman named Mariano who watches his only son Jose gunned down by a drug cartel. The father makes the decision to take his daughter to Texas in order to assure her safety so that she would not suffer the same fate as Jose. Isabel is able to make it to America where she meets a sheriff who she falls in love with and has a child. They try to get Mariano a green card but unfortunately as soon as they do he got shot in the back and was killed. This is easily the best storytelling on the entire album. It shows what some people are forced to go through in order to make a better life for themselves and their families.
Other Noteworthy Songs: A lot of people had mixed feelings about the albums debut single “Outta Style.” The song is a little on the generic side at times but, I have to say the song is catchy and fun with phenomenal fiddle play. I think it’s a harmless song and absolutely fine for a lead single especially when you hear the rest of the album. “These Old Boots Have Roots” was one of the songs released prior to the albums official release. It’s an uptempo number about the type of person that he is and how he won’t forget or change the person that he is.
Grade, Closing Thoughts: Not surprisingly I found this to be a really enjoyable album. I actually liked it even more than I liked The Underdog. I can’t say I found any of the songs on this album to be bad which is pretty incredible for a 16 song album. Watson stays true to what he has done his entire career by putting out another solid country album that walks the line between quality and commercial appeal really well. I would put Aaron Watson in the same boat as I put Cody Johnson who is another great Texas country singer. I give this album a B and I sincerely hope that this album has even more success than The Underdog had. Great album.