Album Review

Sean Watkins - Blinders On

Sean Watkins - Blinders On

As a member of Nickel Creek, Sean Watkins has often been overshadowed by his sister Sara Watkins and mandolinist Chris Thile, but with his third solo album, he takes a much-deserved turn in the spotlight. Straying even further from Nickel Creek's acoustic, neo-bluegrass sound, Watkins delivers a set of modern pop fare revealing a new songwriting maturity that wasn't evident on his previous solo outings. Watkins studies the inner turmoil of a lover convinced that all good things will eventually go bad on "Run Away Girl", and tackles the complicated human dynamics that inevitably follow the end of a relationship on "I'm Sorry", a brooding track paced by Jon Brion's solitary piano and the haunting fiddle work of Sara Watkins and Gabe Witcher. Another highlight is the looping groove of "Starve Them To Death", a simple but well-crafted pop gem. Blinders On also features a few choice instrumental tracks; the sonically experimental "Happy New Year" finds Watkins blending guitar, vocals, bass, piano, organ and a drum machine into a tension-building expression of frustration.