For over 20 years now, Aaron Watson has traveled the land as country’s ultimate underdog troubadour – a truly independent artist with the spirit of the American frontier in his veins, and a self-made empire to match. Working without corporate backers, he has nonetheless reached the Top 10 of Billboard’s Country Album chart five separate times – an impressive feat by any standard – and that includes his triumphant 2015 set, The Underdog, which landed at Number One. Matching sold-out shows across the country with homegrown hits, he’s followed suit at country radio, making history in 2017 with “Outta Style” and “Run Wild Horses.” But despite the success, the Texas native remains a fighter punching far above his weight, constantly defending his right to be in the ring. And with his new album, Unwanted Man, he reminds all who care to listen that it’s just fine by him. Seventeen years into his journey, Watson reached a hard-to-comprehend milestone in 2017, becoming one of the only independent artists to crack country radio’s Top 10 in the last half century. “Defying gravity” with his free wheeling country rocker, “Outta Style,” he had a bonafide hit and almost two decades of sold-out momentum on his hands, reaching a pinnacle that should have sent him to the next level – yet still, Watson found the mainstream gates difficult to unlock. Luckily, his fans didn’t care. They never stopped coming out, whether it was a massive stadium show like Rodeo Houston or a nameless dancehall on some dusty interstate off ramp, and in the time since, that truth not only sustained Watson, it became the bedrock of Unwanted Man. With its raw vocals and minimal production, the album’s title track sets Watson’s quest in motion, kicking off Unwanted Man with a thank you to his supporters. As it swells into a two-stepping romantic romper, his knack for hiding big themes in personal lyrics shines through … and not for the last time. Cut in January 2021 in Tyler, Texas, it’s the first album Watson has recorded in his home state in a decade, and reflective themes of an outsider’s life in spotlight pepper the set – always presented as he sees fit. That at this point in his long career, Watson knows who he is, and he’s not about change. It might not be an easy road – or even one you can find on a map most of the time. But he’s free, and he knows it.