Watkins Family Hour: brother sister
Five years after their all-covers debut, and a full 18 after they launched the act, siblings Sara and Sean Watkins have managed to grab enough time away from Nickel Creek and their other endeavors (I’m With Her for Sara, Fiction Family for Sean, solo careers for both) to reconvene Watkins Family Hour. This time, seven of the 10 tracks are originals, and while they don’t stray far from what we’ve already come to expect from them individually and together, a more identifiable duo identity emerges here. Some of the Mike Viola-produced tracks, like “Just Another Reason,” exhibit a positively ingratiating pop sensibility, and “Keep It Clean,” the album closer and one of the covers, rocks out, with assistance from guest vocalists David Garza, Gaby Moreno and John C. Reilly. Others (the instrumentals “Bella and Ivan” and “Snow Tunnel”) skew toward traditional acoustic music forms and a couple (“Fake Badge, Real Gun,” “The Cure”) defy easy categorization altogether. Warren Zevon’s “Accidentally Like a Martyr” is minimal, pure and as warm as a cozy fireplace. Throughout, of course, there is that sweet vocal blend that defines everything they do together, so natural and smooth and enchanting. Lyrically, Sean and Sara tend toward direct, unambiguous messaging: the hook line of “Fake Badge, Real Gun” is a simple one, “The truth will be waiting.” It’s here for the taking now though.