Willie Watson (Old Crow Medicine Show) Announces Debut Album and Shares First Single “Real Love”

Today, the singer-songwriter, poet, actor and multi-instrumentalist Willie Watson has announced his first-ever solo album of original material – over 20 years into his career.

Willie Watson (Old Crow Medicine Show) Announces Debut Album and Shares First Single "Real Love"

The former member of Old Crow Medicine Show has been a part of numerous musical projects, soundtracks, and films and is now set to release Willie Watson on September 13th via Little Operation Records and More (Thirty Tigers). To mark the occasion, he’s today released the first single “Real Love” and its gorgeous accompanying video. Directed by Joseph Wasilewski, the video follows Willie and his wife Mindy as they slow dance through significant places in their relationship. 


Willie Watson on “Real Love”

“Real Love” is a love song I wrote for my wife. It kinda turned out to be the story of my life and it’s clear now that she’s standing in the center of everything. We’ve been looking for each other for a long time and now we can’t even remember all the struggle it took to get here.

Willie Watson has spent most of his musical career as a favorite of musicians in the know. As an inspiring and eccentric character, a remarkable player, and a human who looks at the world differently, Watson attracted a who’s who of collaborators throughout his career including Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, John Prine, John C. Reilly, Sara and Sean Watkins and so many more. Watson has always battled his own self-diminishment and only now has decided to allow a body of work of his own to be released into the world. “After 30 years of playing music professionally – this is my debut album. This record is me beating the devil, or the story of what finally did it anyway. I didn’t make any specific pact or anything but I know we’ve been tangled up most of my life. Now that he’s gone I can love myself again,” says Watson of the record.

Watson recorded the album in Los Angeles with producers Gabe Witcher (Punch Brothers) and Kenneth Pattengale (Milk Carton Kids) and with a crack band of players including Paul Kowert on bass (Punch Brothers), Dylan Day on guitar (Jenny Lewis, Nick Hakim), Benmont Tench on keys (The Heartbreakers), Jason Boesel on drums (Bright Eyes, Jenny Lewis), and new massive talent Sami Braman on fiddle. The collection of songs is honest and potent, an unadorned reflection of Watson’s life, his mistakes, his traumas, and his gratitude to still be here, to still be alive, and to still be loved. It’s the type of record that can’t come early in one’s career, and was won after a life of hard battles and difficult lessons. 

Willie Watson was born and raised in upstate New York where he started the earliest iterations of his musical life while still in high school. As a teenager, Watson and Ketch Secor co-founded Old Crow Medicine Show – a group of remarkable players obsessed with early American traditional music. He remained in the band as one of its main creative forces until he departed in 2011. Watson appeared in Joel and Ethan Cohen’s The Ballad of Buster Scruggs in the role of The Kid and also as a part of the soundtrack, performing with Tim Blake Nelson on the Oscar-nominated “When A Cowboy Trades His Spurs For Wings.” He also appears on the soundtracks for the Coen Brothers Hail, Caesar! and Live By Night. Watson previously released two albums of covers, Folk Singer Vol.1 and Folksinger Vol 2.

Watson will head out on a major North American tour kicking off in June and wrapping up in December. Highlights include the Tractor Tavern in Seattle on November 6th, the Basement East in Nashville on December 3rd, and The Bowery Ballroom in New York City on December 12th. A full list of tour dates is below, with the bulk of them on sale Friday, June 21st at 10AM local. Find tickets here.

About Shauna "WhiskeyChick" Castorena

Shauna "WhiskeyChick" Castorena is a freelance writer for both Country Music News and Country Music On Tour. Want to collab on some content? Email me. Want my rates for commercial promo work? Get them right here.