Album Review: Aaron Watson - "Unwanted Man"

One of the most-consistent artists in all of country music -- radio success or not -- is back with a new album and, as always, he's here to wear his honest heart on his sleeve.

With the song “Cheap Seats,” Aaron Watson states his claim of being an alternative to ‘Nashville country.’ “You finally offered me a seat there at the table,” Watson sings, addressing the Nashville mainstream directly, “then laughed and pulled the chair right out from under me.” Later he advises, “You can keep your rigged up radio.” Over a bass-y guitar groove worthy of Waylon Jennings, Watson asserts how his music is aimed straight at at his fans, without the middleman (Nashville) in between. He may not be willing to play the music business game, but Unwanted Man offers living proof that he sure knows how to create lively, meaningful country music.

The album’s title track ("Unwanted Man") turns the outlaw post office poster description on its head by stating how, now that he’s found true love, he’s no longer an unwanted man. It’s a lovely, gentle song about romantic devotion that goes both ways, from him and her. There are plenty of fine songs filling out this 11-song release. “The Old Man Said,” for instance puts a dying man’s wisdom into song lyrics, while “Heck Of A Song” explains that, while difficult circumstances may be hurtful, they at least sometimes lead to great songs. The latter lyric includes a verse about a fistfight outside SoCal’s famous Troubadour. Whether this event is factual or not, though, it makes for one heck of a song verse.

Unwanted Man is also built upon great country instrumentation throughout. A perfect example is “Dancing Around The Truth,” which is saturated in steel guitar. Watson also makes it work, even when the arrangement is sparse, as with the mostly acoustic “One In A Life,” which also incorporates some unobtrusive orchestration.

It’s sad that, presumably, the Nashville music community mistreated Aaron Watson in the past. But once again, he’s turned his experiences into one heck of a song. With that said, though, it sure would be wonderful to hear many of Unwanted Man's songs coming through commercial radio. Watson is just too good to ignore.