Chris Watkins is an American musician-singer-songwriter from Alaska who doesn't use much else other than his guitar and voice on his recent release Winter Birds. As soon as I started listening to his album I found his voice attractive. He sings in a low register and has a Dylan-esque quality while his guitar playing relies on basic chord structures. Lyrically, the songs draw you in as Watkins relies on loose narratives that avoid clichés.
One thing that has to be mentioned is the amount of material on this album. The album contains 21 songs and most of the songs go well above the four-minute mark. In fact the first three songs go over the eight-minute mark and the longest song on the album is 10 minutes and 45 seconds. For most people the album will need to be digested in a couple of sittings and I recommend putting it on when you want to relax. The songs are comforting and perfect for listening to while sipping on a hot cup of tea.
The individual songs almost don't need to be mentioned as most of them run into each other and not in a bad way. Watkins creates an atmosphere of relaxing warmth and doesn't really deviate at all during the album. From start to finish I had a similar sensation. While the stories were different the mood felt the same. That being said there are highlights amongst the bunch including “Revelations” “Dirty Little Town” and “Valley Of The Moon.”
I have nothing against a man singing his heart out with his guitar and voice but have to admit that by the end of the album I was hoping for some additional instrumentation whether it be some harmonica, drums - you get the idea. Watkins is a gifted songwriter with a seemingly endless reservoir of songs but I would love to hear some more diversity for such a long album.
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