Patrick Watson – Wave (4 stars)

Patrick Watson – Wave

Melancholic and gorgeous sixth album from the experimental Canadian singer-songwriter

'Don't you wish that we were just dreaming?', Patrick Watson asks on 'Dream for Dreaming', the first track from his sixth album, Wave. The thing is though – Watson's music always feels like a dream. The experimental singer-songwriter and composer from Montréal has an innate ability to create beautifully layered and textured soundscapes that seem out of this world.

Watson is probably best known as the vocalist on The Cinematic Orchestra's 2007 song 'To Build a Home', which has been used in just about every television show, film, or advert you can think of. But Watson was making music on his own long before, and he and his band won the Canadian Polaris Music Prize (also in 2007) for the album Close to Paradise, beating the likes of Arcade Fire and Feist, among others.

Wave is Watson's first album in four years and it packs a serious emotional punch. During the making of the album, Watson's mother passed away, his longtime drummer left the group, and he and his partner separated. Water is a recurring theme throughout, with song titles like 'The Wave,' 'Strange Rain,' and 'Here Comes the River'. Watson says that the album 'is about having a wave knock you over when you realise everything you have in life can be wiped away in a moment – and then learning how not to drown in the process.'

The songs are poetic, with Watson's trademark falsetto often complemented by piano and strings. The album's true standout, 'Broken', deals with letting go of the past and has to be one of the most devastatingly sad songs recorded in recent memory. 'Do you feel a little broken?' he asks, as his vocals are beautifully overlayed before building to a goosebump-inducing crescendo.

The slow and sultry 'Turn Out the Lights' follows, and then the album suddenly loses some steam with some sleepier numbers ('Look at You', 'Drive'), but any shortcomings are remedied by the gorgeous album closer, 'Here Comes the River'. Wave is a deeply personal and introspective record from a fine songwriter who is just trying not to drown.

Out Fri 18 Oct on Domino and Secret City.

Patrick Watson

‘Chamber-folk’ doesn’t quite do it justice; 'indie-pop' isn’t entirely accurate. Watson is musically omnivorous – he’s produced lush orchestral pop, experimental junk percussion, mariachi brass and even sci-fi R&B. But whatever mode he’s in, he achieves an impossible balance of maximalism and subtlety, with meticulous…

Barbican Centre, London EC2Y

Fri 6 Mar 2020

Barbican Hall

£22–£27.50 / 020 7638 8891

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