Tuesday, June 2, 2015


Are humans no better than robots when it comes to emotions?  Do we act in pre-programmed ways when it comes to love, anger, fear, etc., thanks to societal norms?  And what does that leave us that separates us from the robotic?  This is the heady topic behind Watson's fifth album, although thankfully only lyrically.  No robotic music here, as usual it's beautiful and stirring.  Hushed and lush, Watson leads things with his sweet falsetto, light keys and occasional beds of synthesizer.  There are certainly lots of hypnotic moments (as opposed to mechanical), and the pulse rarely rises above dream state, but that just makes the intense moments (the middle of Bollywood) even more powerful.

The secret weapon after Watson's many skills is Moncton-raised guitar player Joe Grass.  Handling all the acoustic, electric, atmospheric and pedal steel parts, his non-traditional approach leads to many other-worldly moments.  The whole band works wonderfully as a team on the lovely arrangements.  The Bowie echoes in Grace are reminiscent of The Man Who Sold The World era, while Hearts moves from a gentle acoustic number to a dark, rainy boogie, pedal steel and synth accenting deep drums as Watson exhorts a pair of hurt lovers to "Scream, scream louder,  so loud 'till you can't hear each other."  It's all beautiful, which is what makes us different from robots, I'm thinking.

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