Remember ‘To Build a Home’ by The Cinematic Orchestra (the utterly stunning piano led track with haunting singing and raise-the-hairs-on-your-arms lyrics) which has graced many a TV and film soundtrack? Well Patrick Watson is that singer/co-writer and this is his new offering.
Watson formed a group in his name with guitarist Simon Angell, percussionist Robbie Kuster, and bassist Mishka Stein and Adventures in your own Backyard is an attempt to ‘make the music we would want to listen to at home’.
‘Lighthouse’ is the opener and doesn’t disappoint. It begins with a gentle classical piano that’s the tightrope to suspend Watson’s fragile (but deceptively strong) falsetto voice. Reverb strings come in, a low guitar and a slow build until ‘won’t you shine a light on us now’ opens the floodgates for a mariachi trumpet, rolling drumbeats and massive strings. It moves from gentle folk to a spaghetti western style plea and it’s quite the curtain raiser.
‘Into Giants’ is another winner. A much more traditional folk song with an ensemble of close harmony voices. Watson’s voice swoops and glides over female vocals, like inextricably linked partners : ‘started out as lovers don’t know where it’s gonna end.’ There’s a touch of the Jeff Buckley’s here, and frankly, it’s pretty damn sexy.
‘Words on Fire’ also gorgeous, is breathy and optimistic: ‘lean our heavy heads with the weight of the things that are left unsaid, don’t worry about it now.’ The acoustic guitar leads with heavenly choral echoes.
But as Dorian Grey knows, you can only sustain beauty for so long. There are quite a few tracks which don’t quite hit the spot. Like The Cinematic Orchestra, there are instrumental tracks – musical meanderings until you hit pay dirt. These are adventures certainly. Although Patrick Watson has pared back on experimentation with unusual instruments, he still tries on styles like a jacket: upbeat Gomez, Anthony and the Johnsons and the big Rufus Wainwright wall of sound to name a few. It’s Watson’s signature style that’s the money, the sympathetic troubadour echoed only by guitar piano and harmonies. Named as one of the ‘can’t miss acts’ at Austin’s South by Southwest festival, they are certainly stunning live* but you may have to cherry pick your favourite tracks on the album.
Review by: Selina Ream
*An acoustic version of ‘Lighthouse’
A live version of Into Giants
Apr 20 Berlin Germany – Hellig Kreuz Kirche Sold Out
Apr 21 Rotterdam Netherlands – Motel Mozaïque
Apr 24 Paris France – Cabaret Sauvage Sold Out
Apr 26 Bourges France – L’Auditorium (Printemps de Bourges)
Apr 28 Amsterdam Netherlands – Melkweg
Apr 29 Sint-Joost-Ten-Node Belgium – Botanique Sold Out
Apr 30 London United Kingdom – St Stephen’s Church Sold Out
May 1 Brighton United Kingdom – Komedia
Adventures in Your Own Backyard is released on Domino Records (30 April 2012)