Review: Gene Watson “Best of the Best”

Gene Watson
Best of the Best: 25 Greatest Hits (Fourteen Carat Music)

Gene Watson may not be a songwriter, but he sure can tell a story. One of Country music’s premier vocalists, Best of the Best finds Watson re-examining 25 of his most popular tunes with a freshness and energy that proves not only that he hasn’t lost his touch, but that over time, his voice is somehow sounding younger.  A rare occurrence, but one that should earn him a place among Nashville’s most notable singers of both past and present.

With a Merle Haggard style wobble and throaty vibrato, Watson’s delivery doesn’t skip a beat. No matter what he sings, he phrases it in a way that only he can. A unique voice with a gift for giving life to the words of others, Best of the Best should school any aspiring vocalist in the way a song ought be sung.

A great introduction to an underrated artist, the album kicks off with the classic “Fourteen Carat Mind,” which sets the tone for a perfect mix of polished production (Dirk Johnson) that compliments Watson’s newly thinned out voice oh so well.  Though he sounds more and more like a modern Country singer as he ages, Watson never lacks authenticity. Unlike many contemporary artists, he doesn’t try to sing in a certain way. Rather, he just sings.

There’s a romantic quality in Watson’s voice that makes it no wonder he’d choose to release this record on Valentine’s Day.  Still, when it comes to hurt ballads, this is where he shines. When he sings about lost love and leaving, he owns it. No better example is there than his new version of the standout, “Farewell Party,” which showcases the true power in his twang. Throwing out the obvious and choosing to take notes up and down in odd places, his voice is a combination of cries and comfort that make him a master of giving any song incredible emotional charge.

Reinventing his catalog with subtle, simple arrangements that welcome all the tracks  in one place, Best of the Best is a must have for any Country fan. Watson is like an old friend who comes bearing familiarity but without redundancy. Though he may not be breaking new ground, the album makes the perfect companion for both a lonesome night or time spent with a loved one.

Gene Watson Best of the Best: 25 Greatest Hits is available now. For more information, visit:

Gene Watson performs “Farewell Party”

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