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31 May 2009 @ 01:31 am
Song of the Week #51: Nickel Creek "Reasons Why"  

Friday morning I finally got around to clicking through on the email I received earlier this week from XPN/NPR’s World Café to check out the performance from Sara Watkins (featuring Benmont Tench of the Heartbreakers, her brother Sean, and another gentlemen whose name escapes me) in the studio to support her new solo CD, produced by Zeppelin’s John Paul Jones. I had spun the CD a few times and there was some really good stuff on it, but it hadn’t really grabbed me yet as I hadn’t spent any serious time with it. But I want to. I need to. She has an amazing voice and part of the brilliance is in her subtlety which begs close attention. Not to mention that she’s a female with a 4-letter first name and I’m drawn to them for some reason (Tara MacLean, Anna Nalick, Keri Noble, Kate Rusby, etc.). I knew going into it that I wouldn’t be able to end the day without hearing my favorite song sung by Ms. Watkins though, being this week’s pick.

What I wasn’t expecting was to find a treasure trove of great Nickel Creek material on the NPR site including a full stream of a show from their farewell (for now) tour in 2007. Oh, wait, you don’t know what the connection is? Oh, sorry. Sara was in Nickel Creek with her brother Sean and Chris Thile. For about 8 years they toured endlessly, recorded 4 really tight albums, sold a couple million records under the radar, and then decided to put the band on hold and pursue solo projects. And none are older than 30!

Anyway, before this rambles too long. This particular song is simply one of the most gorgeously sung songs with enough harmonies to make both an ‘80s rock fan, Everly Brothers fan, or Boston fan weak in the knees. Sara and Chris just deliver such flowing vocals it’s stunning. The instrumental breaks are pretty intense as well. The link above is the studio version with video, but it ends just as the song starts to really blossom, it needs another chorus after the instrumental …. Thankfully they too realized this and in the live version below you get a longer solo section and then a circle back to the chorus before it ends – check out that version too.

A couple of highlights:
--The “-ding” of “standing” and “-bling” of “stumbling” in the chorus how it just opens up from gorgeous harmony to mega-gorgeous harmony
--Guitar break after the first chorus
--Harmony laden first two lines of the 2nd verse and then the fragility of the next 2 lines with just Sara’s voice
--The 2nd chorus is even better than the first – who would have thought
--“With so much deception” section with all three trading vocal lines - wow

More Nickel Creek & Sara Watkins:
Reasons Why (live)
When In Rome – not your mama’s BG – holy progressive Batman
When You Come Back Down
Sara Watkins “Long Hot Summer Days” (live)