Southern Soul

Southern Soul: Kellin Watson | Halo of Blue
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Singer-songwriter Kellin Watson’s fourth solo album, Halo of Blue, embodies its name, featuring tracks tinged with gospel sounds and deep shades of longing. The title track rises and falls with the gentle country sonority of a pedal steel guitar and Watson’s compelling vocals. But to paint the album as despairing or confine its expressions to a single genre would be foolish, considering its far-reaching roots and nuances.  

Recorded in various locations, including Asheville’s Echo Mountain Recording Studio, the 14-track album features contributions from Sarah and Christian Dugas of The Duhks and Oliver Wood of The Wood Brothers. The artists’ voices beautifully complement Watson’s in the harmonized version of “Sittin’ On Top of the World.” Sparks of the Asheville native’s fierce musical persona surface in “Swagger” and “Fire,” when she belts out saucy lines like, “Boy, where did you get that swagger? I wanna know so that I can move faster,” and references “the heat” within her soul. The album ends on a hopeful note with “Angels Keep Watching Over Me,” when every keystroke and raw lyric sounds as if it’s reverberating throughout an illuminated sanctuary.

Halo of Blue stands like a tree on a mountainside, its roots firmly planted in Appalachian influence while its branches reach out to elements of blues, pop, and folk. The variation within Watson’s work highlights her multifarious talents while remaining consistent and approachable.