Geraint Watkins is a journeyman, starting his career as a session keyboardist, which led to a steady gig with Dave Edmunds, working his way up to a steady gig with Dave's onetime partner in crime, Nick Lowe. Along the way, he played with a diverse batch of musicians -- among them John Martyn, Rory Gallagher, Tracey Ullman, the Fabulous Thunderbirds, Van Morrison, and Paul McCartney -- but that Lowe connection is key on his 2004 album, Dial "W" for Watkins. It's his third record, but only his second since relaunching his solo career in 1998 with Watkins Bold As Love, which featured a similar cast of characters as this album. These musicians also played on Lowe's Dig My Mood and The Convincer, so it should be no surprise to anybody familiar with those two low-key, latter-day masterpieces by Basher that Dial "W" for Watkins has the same comfortable, relaxed feel and offhand charm. If anything, Watkins shows a little more impish humor here than Nick did last time around; even with its lo-fi electronics, "Turn That Chicken Down" is a definite throwback to such Nick instrumentals as "Awesome" and "Shake That Rat." While the music is undeniably similar in tone to Lowe's recent work, Watkins is his own man, with a looser feel to his decidedly laid-back music. Dial "W" doesn't knock you over your head; it croons and charms. It's slight on the surface -- the love songs are sweet and short, there are lots of ragged edges and lots of jokes -- but that's its appeal: it's warm, friendly, engaging music, perfect for a relaxing evening at home with old friends (provided those friends are also old rock & rollers at heart, too).
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine