The latest release from one of our premier blues writers and performers is, as the title suggests, an honest and personal album. The anticipation has built tremendously, due in no small part to the mass media coverage given his song Planet Key in the run up to the September 2014 election. His artistic freedoms being so publicly denied gained Darren Watson much sympathy, some matching dislike and a certain political notoriety. It would surely be a selling point, but given its divisive effect the track doesn’t appear on the album.
Perhaps for the better, because instead of being a curiosity, his fifth solo release stands as a showcase of his versatility and well-honed skills as a blues songwriter and musician. At times you can hear him paying homage to those who have come before, indeed along with eight of his own, the album also features two songs written by fellow Wellington bluesman Bill Lake. The blues is a deeply emotional style of music, and like many emotions it doesn’t always sit in one place. This is a rollercoaster ride through sub-genres including Tex-Mex, ‘twisted rhumba’ and Southern soul, bringing highs and lows – soft and slow to let you feel it, then hot and funky to make you wanna party. This album really doesn’t miss a beat, and rather like Watson’s inadvertent foray into national politics, even hits a few you didn’t anticipate were there.