18 Oct 2019
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Darren Watson - Album review: Too Many Millionaires

26 Mar 2018 // A review by Jacquie Walters

This deeply enjoyable album will warm the hearts of any blues fans, and in fact anyone with an ounce of soul will love it.

Darren Watson is a great example of a bluesman at his peak. He delivers warm, robust, committed vocals and guitar playing to match. In assembling a high-quality group of musicians to add to the album’s soundscape, Watson as producer shows exemplary taste at all times. This is a balanced, controlled sound that says just what it wants to say and no more. It’s all class from beginning to end.

Opening track Hallelujah (Rich Man’s War) is reminiscent of Keb’ Mo’. Its lyrics are intelligent and pointed and its message is sadly relevant and timely. It’s also features marvellous harmonica playing from Terry Casey.

National Guy further stamps Watson’s political colours to the mast. Watson’s waiting on the day when the wealthy get their just rewards and a steak knife too, and who can blame him: “None are so blind as those who can’t see that there’s a price to be paid if we want to be free. Some people might suffer but I’m glad it’s not me. I’m alright Jack, it don’t grow on trees. And if you want to share some of mine well get to the back of the line.”

Mean Me Right Blues is a highlight. It’s a downright sexy track with its languid guitar, vocals, and piano playing. It transports the listener to a smoky bar in a black and white movie with one couple left slow dancing on the dance floor. Its delightfully sinuous vibe is absolute perfection.

Pilgrim brings echoes of Rory Block’s playing style. It’s a commanding and urgent slide guitar sound. There’s full commitment to the music and a delicious energy to the track as a whole. It also contains my favourite lyric of the album “you can’t trust no politician who’d sell the house to paint the roof”.

Title track Too Many Millionaires is a very fine cover of a Bill Lake song. Another crie de coeur for social justice, the track is beautifully paced and a real foot stomper.

Past Tense ends the album and is another outstanding track. While it may seem an anti-romantic love song at first, there’s deep feeling contained within its realism. “Trying to write a love song ain’t an easy thing. Something always comes off wrong. I could never write a song I could not sing with my heart deep in this song. Yeah my heart’s deep in this song.”

Watson’s heart is undoubtedly deep within this whole album and at only eight tracks in length it left me wanting more. This is an outstanding collection of songs from an artist who has honed his craft. He really is a terrific singer, songwriter and musician. Watson has something to say and he says it with consummate skill. Fantastic.

★★★★★ (5 stars)


Review written by Jacquie Walters

 

About Darren Watson

No-one plays the blues like Darren Watson. Over the better part of three decades he has developed a style that, while touching on all of the greats who inspired him, is personal, powerful and identifiably his own.

Watson gained national fame in the 80s as the young front-man and guitar-slinger for Smokeshop. The band made two albums, had several radio hits, opened for numerous international blues legends and toured tirelessly, earning Watson a place alongside the likes of Midge Marsden, Hammond Gamble and Rick Bryant as one of New Zealand's best blues interpreters.


Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Darren Watson

Releases

Too Many Millionaires
Year: 2018
Type: Album
Introducing Darren Watson
Year: 2014
Type: Album
Saint Hilda's Faithless Boy
Year: 2010
Type: Album
South Pacific Soul
Year: 2005
Type: Album
King Size
Year: 2002
Type: Album

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