Like a sepia-toned photo of days gone by, Watson embodies a sound Nashville disowned years ago for rhinestones and snakeskin. His deep baritone is dark as pumpernickel, smooth as steel, and haunted as that house in Amityville. His music harks back to the dusty honky-tonks and electrified swing of Bakersfield C&W with an unusual authenticity. But Watson prevents his music from becoming a museum piece by infusing it with a vitality that wholly transports the listener. Shortly after his divorce in 2000, the Austin singer met the love of his life. She died four months later in an accident as she was leaving his house after a fight. Devastated, Watson attempted suicide, and eventually channeled his grief into his 2001 album, Every Song I Write Is for You. But it wasn't enough to exorcise the demons. A year later, he checked into a psychiatric hospital, a period Watson discusses in the 2006 documentary, Crazy Again. Last year he released From Cradle to the Grave, a terrific album recorded in Johnny Cash's Hendersonville, Tennessee cabin/studio, and one that echoes Cash's tales of pain and redemption on tracks like "Justice for All," in which Watson's narrator notes, facing his child's killer, "Revenge is mine said the Lord/Well, the Lord's one lucky guy."
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