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Interview: Aaron Watson talks new ‘Cover Girl’ project, singing with his daughter & finding the fire inside after a couple of turbulent years

Before the current crop of Texan artists like Cody Johnson, Parker McCollum, Drake Milligan and Randall King hit big here in the UK Aaron Watson was touring & playing shows to loyal & appreciative fans. The pandemic and then an enforced rest because of vocal surgery derailed his plans a little but he’s back now and firing on all cylinders with his new duets project, ‘Cover Girl’ and a new solo album in the works too. We were thrilled to talk to him all about it.

Aaron, it’s lovely to talk to you today, thank you for your time. We’re really excited about the ‘Cover Girl’ project.

Thank you. It was such a fun project to do. I generally just write all of my own songs and I’ve never really covered many other artists songs because I pride myself in being a songwriter. This was different though, it was inspired by my daughter, Jolee, she and I share a love of music.

I was telling her about all the women and female artists that have inspired my career – from Roseanne Cash and Nanci Griffith to Sheryl Crow and Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders and even onto artists like Cyndi Lauper. It was such fun to share these artists with her.

And the cover songs are all going to be duets?

That was the other fun part of the project, getting to do a bunch of duets with independent female artists. We went back and forth because I am friends with a lot of female artists who are now on major labels but we ultimately decided that they didn’t necessarily need my help in the way that independent artists do. (laughing) We thought it would be more meaningful to work with independent artists, who I, honestly, tend to relate more with anyway.

How did you come to sing ‘Never Grow Up’ with Jolee – why that song?

My daughter, like most teenage girls and women on the face of the earth, is obsessed with Taylor Swift. She was insistent that I did a Taylor Swift song on this project and who can argue with that? (laughing) I told her that if I covered Taylor she would have to sing with me on it!

Then we had to choose the right song, right? A lot of Taylor’s songs wouldn’t suit being sung by a middle-aged father, you know, they don’t really relate to me – I can’t really sing a song about a boy breaking my heart! (laughing) We did think about covering one of Tayor’s upbeat, popular songs but then we found ‘Never Grow Up’ and it made for a perfect daddy / daughter moment, it’s such a sweet song and a song that I can listen to years in the future and hear Jolee at 13 on too.

Tell me about the choice of ‘Seven Year Ache’.

I have honestly, always loved Roseanne Cash and ‘Seven Year Ache’ has always been my favourite song of hers. It is such a cool song, the lyric, the melody, all of it – it kinda has that ‘Urban Cowboy’ feel to it. The idea to use Jenna Paulette on it came from the fact that I’m playing a lot of shows with her, she’s my good friend too. She did an amazing job on that song, so good.

Both girls that I sing with on these songs, both Jenna and Jolee, I absolutely think the world of, for different reasons! (laughing) Someday I will be opening up shows for both of them! (laughing)

Jolee’s vocals are great on ‘Never Grow Up’. Does she aspire to have a career in the music industry like her dad?

Yeah, I think she does. She and I have vocal lessons together. I don’t pride myself on being a singer as such. I can hold a note and carry a tune but Jolee can do all the fancy Aretha Franklin style notes and runs. I didn’t want her to sing just a harmony with me, I wanted her to have her own parts and sing in unison with me too. We recorded her vocals at our house, in my wife’s closet! (laughing)

This whole project has just been so much fun for me. There was no pressure and it’s given me more time to write and focus on my next album too. At the end of the day, I just want to make music that people enjoy.

How many more songs are there going to be on the project as a whole and can you share which other artists are on the project?

There’s going to be 11 in total. We are covering one of your UK artists in that I’m doing ‘Back on the Chain Gang’ by The Pretenders. I’m a huge fan of Chrissie Hynde. I’m hoping that somewhere down the road we might do a second volume of the ‘Cover Girl’ project because I’ve enjoyed doing this one so much.

Aaron shared more details of the songs and the artists involved in an exclusive interview with the Huffington Post that you can read here

Since you were last over here in the UK for The Long Road festival the Texan sound has really flourished. Proving what a trailblazer you are! Drake Milligan and Randall King have just been over and impressed fans at the C2C festival.

Wow! That is so fantastic, I love to hear that. I need to work on getting back over there for sure. I love coming over to play for y’all in Europe, you’ve always been so good to us. My daughter’s first ever show was to see Paul McCartney. She’s seen Taylor Swift recently but her first ever show was when we took her to see Paul McCartney – there’s no better introduction to music than to stand in front of one of the Beatles as they play ‘Blackbird’ on an acoustic guitar!

How far along the line are you with writing your next studio album?

I’m very far along with the next project. Between Covid and being on bed rest and having to have surgery on my vocal chords last year it has made me even more appreciative of what I do. There’s nothing better than being given the opportunity to make music for a living. I’m also very inspired to do better right now, I have a real fire inside me. My kids are at an age now where they are really watching what I do and that kind of scrutiny really inspires you to be better. We are really going to show the Country music industry how it’s done on the next record!

Finally, Aaron, congratulations on becoming Texas Entertainer of the Year recently. That must mean a lot to you considering the 2-3 years you’ve just been through?

Thank you very much, that means a lot. It was a very special moment. There were some times back last year were I wondered if I would ever sing again when I was getting treatment. Where I went for the treatment, the waiting area was right next to the waiting area for cancer patients. It’s really hard to feel sorry for yourself when you are sitting next to people who are fighting for their lives. It puts it all into perspective and also makes you want to grab as much life as you can. It makes you realise that life is short and that you should be grateful for whatever time you have on this earth.

Check out ‘Seven Year Ache’ and ‘Never Grow Up’ today and keep an eye out for Aaron’s forthcoming ‘Cover Girl’ album right here.

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