Two years ago, Chris Edge, then the program director at G105, told me there were two reasons he didn’t play local music. First, Edge–a guy with a family and a day job–insisted he didn’t know about it. Irritating, but excusable. Edge’s second reservation with local releases was their apparent lack of production value. The stuff of local studios just didn’t meet the rigors of his Clear Channeled platform.
Edge is gone, but, under its new leadership, G105 seems to be holding steady in its no-locals platform. And if those justifications remain, here’s a request, G105: Play Rob Watson for a month, and see what happens.
If G105 is up for Watson, his songs are beyond par for the station’s rather mundane playlists. His work is fueled by a nearly scholastic eclecticism, showing studies of Jeff Buckley, Joe Jackson and some dozen classic soul and rock singers. Watson attaches a genuine country charm to the rock of his debut, To Trade Hands. That appeal blooms when Watson booms through meaty choruses and coddles around sweet verses. Impressively, it manages to transcend Watson’s former nice guy, one-guitar solo act while retaining all of its best characteristics: sincerity, honesty and an unforgettable, homespun voice.
G105 would do well to note that Five For Fighting’s John Ondrasek has yet to conceive a single with the passion of Watson’s “You Were Wrong,” and Gavin Degraw–a longtime darling of the station–needs to do some living to reconcile himself with Watson’s poignant piano ballad “In This World.”
But there’s no reason to pick on G105 exclusively: Fans of James Taylor–ahem 101.5, 93.9, et al. –would swoon at the sound of the gorgeous title track, a gentle number sublimating beneath Watson’s lived-in falsetto, his knack for been-there storytelling and Caitlin Cary’s violin and vocal contributions. WBBB 96.1 says it plays “Rock that knows no boundaries!” Oh, really? Try Watson’s “Baby,” a Scott Weiland-nostalgia barnstormer that plows through a chorus with howling distortion and booming snares ‘n’ cymbals on the back of Dave Bartolomew’s expertly high-test production.
Come on, see what your station can do.
Rob Watson plays Martin Street Music Hall with Kennebec’s Troy Smith on Thursday, April 14.