Lauren Watkins makes dream country

The best way to describe Lauren Watkins is probably smooth. Every note she sings is like honey, sweet even when she’s talking about smoking Camel Blues or taking shots of tequila. Watkins takes on the neotraditional genre of country, with a twinge of Kacey Musgraves’ acoustic sound (as well as her penchant for writing wistful country tracks).  


A Nashville Native 

It’s not often that country stars actually come from Nashville, but Watkins is the break with the rule. In fact, Watkins isn’t the only one in her family to work in Music City in country, her sister, Caroline, is a songwriter too. Despite finding careers in music, the Watkins sisters claim that their parents were music appreciators, not creators. However, they were encouraged from a young age to pursue their dreams and both learned to play guitar and sing from early on. Making country music wasn’t always on the cards for Watkins, though. After finishing high school, she attended college at the University of Mississippi. During the pandemic, her classes went remote and Watkins began posting short videos of her singing songs she wrote and playing guitar in her university bedroom to Instagram.  

Watkins’ posts caught the attention of none other than fellow Nashville songwriter Rodney Clawson, whose wife, Nicolle Gaylon had coincidentally set up the Songs & Daughters record label. It wasn’t long before Watkins was back in Nashville, meeting with Gaylon and was thrown into the world of country music songwriting. Six months later Watkins had signed a publishing deal, swiftly followed by a record deal with Songs & Daughters and Big Loud. The rest, as they say, is history.  


Making ‘dream-country’  

Following her record deal, Watkins got to work improving her songwriting skills. Eventually, Watkins would end up working alongside legendary country music producer Joey Moi. Moi has made a habit of working with up-and-coming Nashville stars in recent years, producing MacKenzie Porter’s latest tracks and Watkins’ Big Loud labelmate Griffen Palmer’s first releases.  


By 2023, Watkins was ready with two EPs to give to the world; ‘Introducing: Lauren Watkins’ and ‘Introducing: The Heartbreak’ – and what an introduction they were. The first taste of Watkins’ particular brand of country music was April 2023’s ‘Introducing: Lauren Watkins’. The track ‘Ole Miss’ is a tribute to her college, using its nickname to delve into her college experience of heartbreak and recovery and pedal steel to set the scene that the track is a traditional take on the storytelling that makes country music so special. ‘Introducing: Lauren Watkins’ doesn’t have a lack of pedal steel throughout the EP, adding to the traditional feel, but combined with Watkins gravelly and comforting voice, the tracks aren’t an impression of days gone by, but a modern take on the traditions of country music that Watkins loves. By focusing on acoustic instrumentation, Watkins creates an EP that plays on the more dreamy, folksy side of country music. Her wordplay on tracks like ‘Camel Blues’, ‘Grain of Salt’ and ‘Shirley Temple’ is reminiscent of an early-career Kacey Musgraves, with her jangly, upbeat style and sweeping sadder tracks.  


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Hannah Larvin, Editor, Maverick Magazine
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