Sean Watkins, of Nickel Creek fame, is a busy man these days. In addition to that band's latest offering, Watkins has just put out his fourth solo album. Originally known for his contemporary bluegrass flatpicking, his music has evolved to incorporate folk, pop and acoustic indie rock influences. While Watkins' guitar playing on All I Do Is Lie is superb, and the title track, among others, features some great guitar work, this is not an album of in-your-face instrumental brilliance. Instead, his chops are mostly used to support a fine slate of songs. Even the album's one instrumental number, the achingly beautiful "Meredith," is sparse and uncluttered.
Recorded over the course of a year, in studios and hotel rooms from California to Michigan, and released on Miranda Mulholland's new label, Roaring Girl Records, the album is a melancholy collection of slow songs, all written by Watkins. Lyrical highlights include "The God You Serve," a gutsy rebuke of hellfire-and-damnation religion, and "Made For TV Movie," a story of an entirely forgettable romance. His sister and Nickel Creek band mate, Sara Watkins, adds violin and vocals to many of the songs, while Greg Leisz's pedal steel and Gillian Welch's harmony vocals are featured on "This Will End In Tears," a song reminiscent of After The Goldrush-era Neil Young, and the most memorable track on the album. (Roaring Girl)