Sun Midnight Sun
With Nickel Creek broken apart, Chris Thile leads The Punch Brothers and fiddler Sara Watkins has gone solo. It's given Nickel Creek fans twice the new output to look forward to. Watkins' link to classic bluegrass is casual. "The Foothills"—the opening instrumental of her second solo album—recalls her roots. Other tunes feature acoustic-based instrumentation that continues that relationship, as a banjo rings out on "Take Up Your Spade." However, Watkins' confidence is soaring, and her choice of tunes is inspired and breaking new ground. She wrote or cowrote many of the songs, despite how familiar and classic they sound. She also threw in The Everly Brothers' "You're the One I Love" as a duet with Fiona Apple, plus Willie Nelson's "I'm a Memory" as a place for Jackson Browne to lay down his weary voice deep in the mix. Other guests include Benmont Tench (Tom Petty) and Taylor Goldsmith (Dawes), and the stretch into modern country, pop, and rock 'n' roll is complete.