Wave (2019) by Patrick Watson

I did not know Patrick Watson was a band. So I guess that gives you some idea of my lack of familiarity with both the band and the songwriter of the same name. I think I have heard of them/him at some point, simply from reading too much Exclaim! in the aughts but who knows.

This is a mostly sedate, melancholy art pop/chamber pop album that is totally fine.

The songs are pretty good but some of them definitely remind me of other songs. When I was listening to “Dream for Dreaming,” for example, I absolutely heard at least two other songs I’d heard before but I couldn’t place them. But, aside from echoes of other songwriters, I do think the songs are pretty strong and that’s very necessary for a record like this.

And that’s because everything is pretty muted, most of the time. Watson sings in a soft almost gentle style. And, much of the time, the arrangements around him are pretty similar to his voice, in terms of how much they feel. They’re not laconic – this is not a laconic sounding record – but they are…I keep coming back to gentle and it’s not the word I want.

It’s only occasionally that the arrangements get some energy too them and even more rarely that Watson himself leaves his melancholic, calm delivery. Those moments are fleeting and I for one would appreciate more of them.

However, I do think it mostly works and it’s mostly due to the strength of the songs. After listening to as many albums as I have, I generally think there are combinations of things that work together. It’s hard to make a record like this without good songs. That would be extremely boring.

Still, this is just fine for me. I don’t know the songwriter and have no real driving interest to spend more time learning the songs enough to really dig in, either to the record or to the catalogue. It just seems fine.


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