Aaron Watson went from underdog to country music big dog after his latest album debuted at number 1, February 17th, of this year. Affectionately named, The Underdog, the album sold 26,340 copies in its first week and it’s still comfortably resting atop the country music album charts. What makes this even a bigger cinderella story is that it marks the first time a solo male artist debuted at number 1 with a self-released and independently promoted album.
The album is pure country in every sense of the word. The album features 14 tracks about faith, friends, family, and of course a love song or two. Watson is a gifted storyteller who paints quite a picture in your mind, both lyrically and musically. From his experiences with labels in Nashville to the death of his daughter, Watson hits a variety of topics and styles, even featuring a song written by John Mayer. High-noon cowboy tunes, slow country love ballads, an 80’s stye rock song about the rodeo, and fast talking, guitar pickin’ traditional country songs all make up one of the most versatile and complete albums I’ve heard in a long time. At the end of the day, Watson stays true to the traditional country sound but still brings a modern flare that should find its way onto country radio.
‘The Prayer’ has this wild-west cowboy sound that seems like it would be played at the end of a Clint Eastwood movie, but ultimately tackles a heavy issue about his relationship with God and how if he relied on himself it would lead him to his own destruction. The song is summed up perfectly in the line: Upon my castle made of sand / I cannot be the king of me.
‘Wildfire,’ is the catchy John Mayer tune that has a great summer vibe to it and could potentially be a radio single. ‘That Look,’ ‘Getaway Truck,’ and ‘Blame It On Those Baby Blues’ are 3 upbeat love songs that also have a good amount country radio feel to them. ‘Bluebonnets’ and ‘Family Tree’ lend themselves to deeper meaning, especially the second verse of ‘Bluebonnets,’ which tells a brief, although, emotional story of the tragic passing of Watson’s daughter, Julia.
‘One Of Your Nights’ is slow love ballad which speaks, cleverly, about having one of those hard days and just wanting to come home and have “one of your nights,” with your wife. Finally, the last track of the album, ‘Fence Post,’ tells the detailed story of his struggles with record executives in Nashville and how he was pretty much told he didn’t have what it takes to be a country music star. Obviously, Watson had the last laugh in that conversation.
1 through 14 you can play this album from beginning to end and not skip a single song. Watson’s accomplishment as an independent artist tells you all you need to know about what’s in this album. It’s meat and potatoes country music at it’s finest without a shade of sounding outdated. Watson takes Alan Jackson and George Strait and makes them fresh, exciting, and boldly relevant. What was once truly an underdog story, is no more. Aaron Watson opened his soul to us and, for now, is rightfully at the top of the country music world.