For nearly two decades, Willie Watson has made modern folk music rooted in older traditions. He's a folksinger in the classic sense: a singer, storyteller, and traveler, with a catalog of songs that bridge the gap between the past and present. On Folksinger Vol. 2, he acts as a modern interpreter of older songs, passing along his own version of the music that came long before him. Southern gospel. Railroad songs. Delta blues. Irish fiddle tunes. Appalachian music. Folksinger Vol. 2 makes room for it all.
Produced by David Rawlings, the album carries on a rich tradition in folk music: the sharing and swapping of old songs. Long ago, the 11 compositions that appear on Folksinger Vol. 2 were popularized by artists like Leadbelly, Reverend Gary Davis, Furry Lewis, and Bascom Lamar Lunsford. The songs don't actually belong to those artists, though. They don't belong to anyone. Instead, they're part of the folk canon, passed from generation to generation by singers like Watson.
Arriving three years after Folksinger Vol. 1 – his first release since parting ways with the Old Crow Medicine Show, whose platinum-selling music helped jumpstart the 21st century folk revival – Vol. 2 expands Watson's sound while consolidating his strengths. Several singers and sidemen make appearances here, including Gillian Welch, the Punch Brothers' Paul Kowert, and Old Crow bandmate Morgan Jahnig. Even so, Watson has never sounded more commanding, more confident, more connected to the music that inspires him.
Nodding to the past without resurrecting it, Willie Watson turns Folksinger Vol. 2 into something much more than an interpretation of older songs. The album carries on the spirit of a time nearly forgotten. It taps into the rich core of roots music. It furthers the legacy of American folk. And perhaps most importantly, it shows the full range of Willie Watson's artistry, matching his instrumental and vocal chops with a strong appreciation for the songs that have shaped not only a genre, but an entire country.
Single LP mastered for vinyl direct from the analog tapes on a custom-built VMS 80 lathe with Ortofon amplifiers, this the first pressing of Willie Watson's Folksinger Vol. 2 and the first Willie Watson album to be released on vinyl.