Aaron Watson looks too young and cheerful to know much about the honky tonk life, but one spin of San Angelo proves appearances can be deceiving. Watson manages to find a comfortable middle ground between the radio-friendly polish of new country and the tougher sounds that continue to find favor in his home state of Texas, and while the party anthem "Heyday Tonight" may open the album, it's harder-edged tunes about love and heartbreak like "Blame It on Me," "Haunted House," and the title cut that put the meat on this disc's bones. Watson wrote the bulk of the album's 13 songs, with the other selections culled from the songbooks of Willie Nelson, Buddy Holly, Jim Lauderdale, and Bruce Robison, and the fact that Watson's songs don't sound woefully inadequate in comparison says a lot about his talent -- maybe "All American Country Girl" and "Good Thing Going" are a bit lightweight, but "Except for Jessie" is a moving tribute to Waylon Jennings and Jessi Colter, and "Haunted House" is a fine and evocative portrait of a love gone sour. Ray Benson's production is clean but straightforward, and the pickers deliver the goods with class to spare. San Angelo isn't always up to the level of Aaron Watson's influences, but it's modern country music with the heart and soul of classic Lone Star sounds, and it's the work of a young man with plenty of potential.
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AllMusic Review by Mark Deming