Groundbreaking independent country artist Aaron Watson continues to chart his own course with the February 24th 2017 release of his new album ‘Vaquero’ (BIG Label Records/Thirty Tigers). Watson made history in 2015 when his 10th studio album, ‘The Underdog’ debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart marking the first time an independent, male country artist had ever debuted at the coveted top spot. Watson’s unprecedented accomplishment turned heads and opened many eyes to what he had been building independently for years. With ‘Vaquero’, Watson continues to challenge current trends and stay true to his muse. The 16-song collection finds the Texas native following the trail back to his roots, keying in on his influences and tipping his hat to the fans and family who helped set the foundation for his success.
Tirelessly defying the odds of the conventional country album cycle over the last 17 years, Watson built a career one fan at a time, night after night, and album-by-album. It’s only recently that others have caught up to the now nationally recognized artist who, now more than ever, is a force to contend with. Watson has been selling out shows across Texas and beyond, with audiences ranging from 2,000-5,000 nightly for years, while also selling out in major markets including Boston and Denver. Expanding his reach even further, Watson performs headlining shows to capacity crowds internationally in the UK, Italy, France, Norway and more. For Watson, it has been a slow and steady climb, but one thing is clear, the integrity and principles that lie beneath all the hard work and perseverance have remain unchanged.
‘Vaquero’ – which means the ‘original cowboy’ – is an intensely reflective and personal set of songs filled with compelling narratives. Throughout, he depicts stories of a rugged people, humble but hardworking, like himself. He puts a playful spin on an insider’s view on the Texan way of life with ‘Amen Amigo’ and delivers life lessons courtesy of an old vaquero with the title track. On the poignant ‘Diamonds & Daughters’, he opens up his heart for his little girl. ‘Mariano’s Dream’ is a companion piece to ‘Clear Isabel’ and on ‘They Don’t Make Em Like They Used To’ he sings of the longing for the nostalgia of an earlier time. Listeners have come to know Watson’s pragmatic style and authenticity as an artist over the years. With ‘Vaquero’, he keeps his Texas flare and honest songwriting at the forefront.
Watson co-produced ‘Vaquero’ with award-winning producer Marshall Altman (Eric Paslay, Frankie Ballard). All sixteen songs for the Amarillo, TX native bear his name, with half penned solely by Watson and the others co-written with acclaimed collaborators including Mac McAnally, Leslie Satcher, Kendell Marvel and more. A pre-order of the album is available now and includes lead single ‘Outta Style’ and ‘Big Love In A Small Town’, HERE.
About Aaron Watson:
Aaron Watson isn’t interested in what someone else thinks he should do. But instead of getting lonely as he sidesteps expectations, he’s gaining followers – hundreds of thousands of them. Delivered with a warm smile and fueled by a wild spirit, Watson’s rebellion echoes the land that helped make him. Watson remains strikingly similar to the people that still dot his native West Texas. They’re a rugged people, proud of home but humble and hardworking, the first to help a neighbor but also fiercely independent. And Watson is unquestionably one of them. “I’ve always considered myself an anti-rock star,” Watson says, his drawl cracking slightly as he grins. “People don’t like me because I’m a rock star. People like me because I’m just like them.” Throughout his 17-year career that spans a dozen albums and more than 2,500 shows throughout the U.S. and Europe, 39-year-old Watson has stubbornly and sincerely identified with the everyman––even as he’s proven to be the exception to the rule. The latest evidence of Watson’s homespun singularity is ‘Vaquero’, an ambitious 16-song set of character-driven storytelling, level-headed cultural commentary, and love songs for grown-ups that promise to further solidify his status as one of today’s finest torch-bearers of real country music.
‘Vaquero’ is the follow-up to 2015’s ‘The Underdog’, an acclaimed collection that also made history: Watson was sitting at his kitchen table as his wife Kim scrambled eggs when he got the call: ‘The Underdog’ had debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Country Albums Chart. It was the first time an independent, male country artist had ever outsold majors to premiere at the top spot. “We started jumping around and squealing like kids,” he says. “It was a beautiful moment because I got to share it with the girl who believed in me when I was broke and playing some pawnshop guitar. It is something I’ll never forget.” That momentous instant also arrived with a built-in challenge. “Once we dried the tears of joy, it hit me,” Watson says. “I had my work cut out for me for my next album.” Determined, Watson committed to waking up every morning before the sun rose to write songs on that same old pawnshop guitar he scored 20 years ago. “I bet you I couldn’t get $50 for that guitar,” he says. “But it means the world to me.” He penned songs in the back of a bus on the highway, too, as the band spent the last two years playing more than 35 states and six countries.
The result is ‘Vaquero’, a bold album that confidently draws from Texas’ storied musical melting pot: dancehall shuffles, dustbowl narratives, Tejano, and more fill the record. In writing the new album, Watson felt especially drawn to the idea of the vaquero, the original Spanish horseman that set the foundation for the North American cowboy, a solitary figure with a legendary work ethic. Watson is a modern-day vaquero––he just gets up at 5 a.m. to wrangle songs instead of cattle. And while he won’t deny the pressure he felt following his last album’s success, outside barometers can’t compel him to change who he is or what he writes. Watson is Watson, chart-topping record or not. “This is the first album I’ve ever made where if it’s the last album I ever make, I could be content with that,” Watson says of ‘Vaquero’.
Refusing to worry about charts or current trends, Watson hopes the main thing the album accomplishes is bringing his growing legion of fans joy. And no matter what happens next, he is anchored and ready. “It doesn’t really matter whether I’m playing a dancehall in Texas or a stadium tour around the world, I’m just me,” he says. “I won’t change. I’m just too rooted in what I believe in. When you’ve played for such a long time to nobody, now that there’s somebody, you really don’t take that for granted.”