Hollywood, CA, June 2016 - Superlative singer-songwriter and fiddler Sara Watkins recorded tracks at United Recording for her new album "Young In All the Wrong Ways," due out July 1 on New West Records. The album was produced by fellow fiddler Gabe Witcher, a founding member of the seminal Bluegrass ensemble Punch Brothers.
On the tumultuous title track, Watkins' backing band creates a violent clamor, with Jon Brion's sharp stabs of electric guitar punctuating the din and Jay Bellerose's explosive drumming ripping at the seams of the song. In the chaos, however, Watkins finds clarity: "I've got no time to look back, so I'm going to leave you here," she sings, with grit and fire in her voice. "I'm going out to see about my own frontier."
Watkins debuted in 1989 as fiddler and founding member of the progressive bluegrass group Nickel Creek along with her brother Sean and mandolinist Chris Thile. In addition to singing and fiddling, Watkins also plays the ukulele and the guitar, and also played percussion while touring with The Decemberists. With Nickel Creek, Watkins released five studio albums, one compilation album and seven singles. During the band's seven-year hiatus, Watkins released two solo albums, the self-titled "Sara Watkins" and "Sun Midnight Sun."
For her new third solo album, Watkins corralled longtime friend and fellow fiddler Gabe Witcher to produce, then put together a band that includes two of Witcher's fellow Punch Brothers: guitarist Chris Eldridge and bass player Paul Kowert. Providing harmonies on the title track are Sarah Jarosz and Aoife O'Donovan, Watkins' bandmates in I'm With Her, and Jim James of My Morning Jacket provides a vocal foil on "One Last Time."
"I've known these guys for a long time, so there's a personal trust as well as a musical trust. I was able to put my heart and soul into these performances, in a way that I don't think I would be able to if I was in a room full of strangers. It allowed me to give myself over to some of these very personal thoughts that are in the lyrics."
View the music video for "Young In All The Wrong Ways":
Listen to NPR's streaming of the entire album prior to its release on July 1:
Sara Watkins is currently on tour through December, appearing at The Hollywood Bowl on July 1.
Pictured in United Studio B are (foreground L-R) Gabe Witcher, producer/guitars; Sara Watkins; (L-R back row) Chris Eldridge, guitar; Tyler Chester, keyboards; Mike Piersante, engineer; Scott Moore, assistant engineer; Jay Bellerose, drums/ percussion; Paul Kowert, bass. Photo by David Goggin.