"Preacher Boy is somewhat like Keb’ Mo’ in his jazzing up of Delta blues styles, but with a more contemporary sound akin to Kelly Joe Phelps or Chris Whitley. The best cuts highlight his wonderful work on National Steel."
“With some of the most innovative roots music on the scene today, Preacher Boy will make a believer out of even the most skeptical. The album creates dusky lyrical landscapes littered with hobos, ghosts, drunks, loneliness, love, and salvation. The result is a totally unique twist on roots music.”
All Music Guide
“Preacher Boy might be a young white boy singing the blues, but think Tom Waits and Captain Beefheart more than Led Zeppelin and Bad Company, and throw in some Townes Van Zandt and Gillian Welch as well. For his fifth album, Preacher Boy for the first time performs in a strictly solo and acoustic setting: just his agreeably smoky voice and vintage National slide guitar. Waits and Beefheart come immediately to mind because of Watkins’ fearlessness when it comes to bending melodies to suit his own whim, not to mention the husky low register of his singing voice. Watkins understands that the idea is not to mimic one’s influences, but to put them in the service of something new."
“Accompanied solely by his keening, propulsive National and Martin guitar playing, Preacher Boy compulsively unwinds a series of often startling, narcotic tales, that prove image-rich and packed with an aura of sweeping drama - made even more pungent by his gruff, whiskey-soaked vocals.”
"Preacher Boy has a pleasantly gravelly delivery, and plucks and slides on his resonators and other steel-strings with a classy, warm aplomb. Some of the songs recall a straighter Tom Waits, and he's written a very fine tribute to Skip James. 'Demanding To Be Next' is a must for modern blues fans who like their songs with a bit of an edge."
“Demanding To Be Next demands attention instantly. On the tender opener "A Little Better When It Rains," Watkins blends fingerpicking and slide. His voice, a cross between those of Kelly Joe Phelps and Tom Waits, has an otherworldly quality that makes him sound like no one else and suits his quirky songs well. Flatpicked folk song "Whistleman" packs detailed, offbeat imagery that recalls Dylan's best. Its ominous feeling gets under your skin, setting you up for the album's only cover a few tracks later, a strong reading of Son House's "Death Letter." Likewise, Watkins' slide on "Jackson Street" conjures the kind of old-time train songs he aspires to emulate.”
"If you like your music dark, beautiful, desperate, and soulful, you won't want to miss Preacher Boy."
"Preacher Boy is a songwriter of startling originality."
“Country blues that marry Nick Cave, Robert Johnson, Woody Guthrie and Tom Waits, honeymoon in the barroom with accordions and banjos and line the wedding bed with sheets of mutant folk, deviant campfire country and beatnik jazz.”
“This may not be the average listener’s cup of tea, although it could be your cup of deep black coffee or dark whiskey. Preacher Boy employs only his Tom-Waits-colored vocals and his fingers or slide on either a 1936 National resonator, a 1938 Martin 00-18G nylon string, or a 2001 Martin D-16 flattop guitar. The result is a trip down emotional backroads running through blues-folk territory, sometimes stark and othertimes enthused.”
"Watkins sings with the backwoods growl of a raspy-throated vet."
British Blues Connection
"Preacher Boy has conjured up a bag of tricks that not only pays homage to the traditional form of music that we call blues but also extends our appreciation of it."
San Francisco Examiner
"Those who arrived late (to the San Francisco Blues Festival) may have missed what could well have been the top act on the entire bill next to John Lee Hooker himself. The strength of the band, other than their sheer musical excellence, is their extremely original approach to the blues, which they can accomplish while at the same time maintaining blues traditions."
San Francisco Bay Guardian
"With his original songs, righteous conviction, and fierce energy, Preacher Boy could be the Paul Butterfield or Charlie Musselwhite for the Lollapalooza nation."
"(He) testifies like he's about to expire at any second. He offers up a refreshing and modern take on the blues and is unafraid to cast the genre in a new light."
"Combining bold, hard vocals with instrumentation that ranged from a kitchen stove to a clarinet, Preacher Boy drew on his personal experiences to sketch wry lyrical pictures which bear truth for anyone who has wrestled with death, loneliness, love or salvation."
Phoenix New Times
"Preacher Boy's tales of marginalized wanderers are hoisted aloft on a clanky scaffold of noise and melody, and the most rewarding part of listening is hearing how often the structure holds solid."
"As he beats his long leather boot, four to the floor, his National steel guitar slides and spits a devious storm of gothic Americana and gritty country blues."