shutupanddance was released in 2002, when Aaron was still known mainly in Texas. It was produced by Kym Warner, an Australian mandolinist. (It was incidentally during these Aaron Watson sessions that Warner met British-born fiddler Eamon McLoughlin, with whom he founded the Americana band The Greencards.) Aaron wrote every song, either solo or with Neal Lowry, and the results are very impressive.
The beaty opener ‘I Don’t Want You To Go (But I Need To Leave)’ is quite catchy, about a relationship with a woman who is just a bit too much of a party girl for everyday life together to work out:
It’s time we called it quits
You know you make fun for Saturday night
But the rest of the week is the pits
There is an excellent classic-style country cheating song set in ‘The Notel Motel’
In a room full of lies
Where love is stolen and put up for sale
If the walls could talk
You know they’d have some stories to tell
‘Cause there’s a vacancy at home
Not tonight at the Notel Motel
Also excellent is the sad story song ‘Stuck Between A Rock And A Heartache’ paints a picture of lonely young wife and mother talking refuge in romance novels and daytime soaps which remind her of her own past romance. An acoustic version of this song is added at the end of the set; since the non-acoustic version is very restrained anyway this seems unnecessary, but it’s a fine song.
‘Off The Record’, a regret-imbued song about a pending divorce, is also very good, with the protagonist still in love despite acknowledging it is all over. In ‘Wish I Could Say I’d Been Drinking’, the non-drinking protagonist feels guilty about the breakup of his relationship, with no one to blame but himself. In ‘Lonely Lubbock Lights’ the singer protagonist has chosen the barrooms he performs in over the straitlaced preacher’s daughter he loved, and now it’s too late to find her again.
‘Kentucky Coal Miner’s Prayer’ is yet another highlight, a powerfully empathetic portrayal of a man struggling with poverty and the terrors of the mines.
‘Heaven Help The Heart’ is an entertaining putdown of a femme fatale who enjoys breaking hearts. ‘Something With A Swing To It’ is, as you might expect from the title, western swing, and is a delight. Belying its title, ‘Shut Up And Dance’ is a pretty melodic love song about staying home with a loved one.
‘Some Never Will’ is well written, but has a slightly harder edge musically. ‘Wrangler Butts’ is a mildly amusing but rather silly tongue in cheek number about the appeal of a good for nothing cowboy’s posterior view. ‘Messing With A Man On A Mission’ is a cheerful up-tempo tune; unremarkable but pleasant.
This was an impressive album by a young artist, solidly country with a Texas feel. It’s a great shame it didn’t make a wider impact at the time of release.