Uncut (magazine) - "YOUNG IN ALL THE WRONG WAYS is Watkins' first completely self-written effort, which gives the record a newfound coherence and a distinct personality, as she sets down her fiddle and leaves behind her bluegrass comfort zone for terrain she'd only hinted at previously."
Audio Mixer: Mike Piersante.
Recording information: Brooklyn Recorders, Brooklyn, NY; Electromagnetic Studios, Los Angeles, CA; heritage Recorders, Burbank, CA; Minutia Studio, Nashville, TN; Sound Emporium, Nashville, TN; United Recorders, Hollywood, CA.
Photographer: Maarten de Boer.
Don't read too much into the title of Young in All the Wrong Ways, Sara Watkins' third solo album. Certainly, the Nickel Creek singer/violinist isn't necessarily acting deliberately youthful here -- the record isn't as brightly pop as its 2012 predecessor, Sun Midnight Sun -- but that doesn't mean that bluegrass factors heavily into the equation either. Young in All the Wrong Ways does make feints to roots music -- if it weren't for the stylishly sculpted fuzz guitar, "The Truth Won't Set Us Free" could be suited for a honky tonk hardwood floor, while "One Last Time" contains some fleet-fingered picking -- but the record feels settled and assured as it leans into its maturation. A large part of its charm lies in its ease. Watkins never is particularly forceful -- she seems to lead from her voice, reveling in its lightness but also letting it bruise when it verges toward heartbreak -- but she's certainly considered, choosing her topics and tempos with care. Young in All the Wrong Ways underscores this sense of craft by accentuating steady, almost thundering, rock rhythms, anxious guitars, and also delicately structured ballads that function as tonic to the bold incidents elsewhere. It's a brief album, ten songs lasting no longer than 41 minutes, but it feels deep due to its nicely shifting sounds and styles, not to mention the sense that Watkins is setting into her own skin here. She's never seemed awkward -- the opposite, really, releasing her first album with Nickel Creek when she was a teenager -- but what makes Young in All the Wrong Ways resonate is how it touches upon her bluegrass and folk roots while feeling entirely different: the work of a musician who is integrating the whole of her influences into an idiosyncratic voice. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine