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After the somewhat upbeat Fever Dream, Watt reverts back to the more relaxed feel of Hendra with this new release Storm Damage. Hendra was very consistent but lacked songs that jumped out and Watt seems to try to deliver more moments here. The most notable attention getter is Irene, which is entrancing, and Watt wisely lets it run for more than six minutes. But there are more valleys here than on Hendra and at times it's a depressing listen. Watt, whose voice is usually a plus, even sounds cringeworthy at times such as on Retreat to Find. Fever Dream was a consistent album that was at times uplifting and Hendra was a consistent album that you could put on to relax with. Storm Damage is neither.
Reviewed in the United States on February 21, 2020
Ben Watt is not that well known in the US - which is a tragedy. I hope more US indie music lovers purchase this after reading my teview.
'Storm Damage' is Ben Watt's fourth solo album (previous, 'North Marine Drive' (1983); 'Hendra' (2014); and 'Fever Dream' (2016)). Most of his musical output between '83 and '14 was mostly with Tracey Thorn as half of the group Everything But The Girl, DJing, mixing, and releasing deep house music in/for clubs. On to the album...
Of the three most recent albums he's released as a solo artist, I think that 'Storm Damage' has an urgency that weaves throughout the entire album and in each song. That urgency provides a spark to this album I didn't quite catch in 'Hendra' or 'Fever Dream'.
The first song off this album, ''Balanced On A Wire', is a perfect example of this spark - and how Ben has grown as a writer and an arranger. This could have been be an average song without the proper arrangement. Ben's knowledge of electronica, the driving beat, the buildup towards the last section, and the interesting lyrics - which apply to so many people, not just the '19 years old', as mentioned in the song - make the song relatable and fascinating.
'Summer Ghosts' refers to the Eastern belief that the veil between the worlds is thinnest during the summer, not around Halloween - and how now-dead family and friends are particularly haunting in familiar places that have been inexorably altered due to the passage of time. A reminder that everyone and thing changes - including ourselves, through the passage of time. Hauntingly (no pun intended) beautiful.
Other standout songs include 'Sunlight Follows The Night', 'Figures In The Landscape', and 'Irene'.
Joking of course. Was hoping to buy this at QEH, London , one of the best venues for serious listening , a couple of weeks back. Not to be , but here is hoping we will all be there when show is put back on. This is the 3rd album in this mode, which in the same time he has written a memoir of his parents: but you know this. Is a real achievement. Couldn't pick the best record: strong songs ( and stuff I like less) on each. All the album's have had notable guests ( Gilmour, Butler) and this time is Alan Sparhawk ( Low), really enjoying the music. thoughtful lyrics and good tunes, interesting sounds : there is some deep bass on this that'll get those woofers working.Quality sounding clean pressing ( mint green vinyl) LP, so hope he doesn't quit while he is ahead.
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