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Charles Watson Now That I’m A River
Moshi Moshi Records May 18th, 2018

Charles Watson — Now That I’m A River (May 18th, 2018)

      Charles Watson — Now That I’m A River (May 18th, 2018)Charles Watson — Now That I’m A River (May 18th, 2018)★¡★       English singer~songwriter and multi~instrumentalist most prominently known for forming the indie pop duo Slow Club. Charles Watson is a London based songwriter~producer~writer and member of indie duo Slow Club and garage~rock super group The Surfing Magazines.
Born: in Sheffield, England
Location: London, UK
Styles: Indie Pop, Alternative/Indie Rock, Folk~Pop, Twee Pop, Art
Album release: May 18th, 2018
Record Label: Moshi Moshi Records
Duration:     46:35
Tracks:
01. Voices Carry Through the Mist     5:26
02. Now That I’m a River     4:04
03. You’ve Got Your Way of Leaving     4:16
04. Love is Blue     3:23
05. Wildflower     5:05
06. No Fanfare     5:27
07. Abandoned Buick     4:26
08. Run and Hide     5:38
09. Tapestry     5:07
10. Everything Goes Right     3:43
Notes
★¡★       Clear sticker on the front, with Artist/LP Title & Moshi Cat no.
★¡★       This is the Pink Marbled version of the LP, there is also a standard Black LP available. They both appear to have the same catalogue number. I only have the Pink Marbled version, so unable to clarify at the moment.
★¡★       Pink Marbled available as pre order before release & also at Live gigs, no official statement with regards Ltd status/number?
Review
by Tom Lambert May 18th, 2018; Score: 8
■♠■      You always got the impression from Slow Club’s four albums that they were making the music that they wanted to be making. Fears of cynical critiques against their original tweeness or later melodrama didn’t prevent them releasing songs that were consistently entertaining and heart~provoking. It was the evident passion and sincerity in their writing that made them stand out as an act, coupled with the complementary yin~yang balance between Charles Watson and Rebecca Taylor. It seemed inevitable, though, that eventually there would be solo projects beyond the band, allowing them to scratch musical itches individually. Rebecca Taylor has gone a more electronic route, releasing her exciting first single ‘Your Wife’ under the moniker Self Esteem last year, crisply produced by Django Django’s Dave MacLean. Charles Watson has gone in almost the direct opposite route with Now That I’m A River, self~producing an album of gentle Americana folk~rock. There were risks that without Taylor’s pop~prone energy that the result would lack variety, but fortunately it has brought about an album of unassuming authenticity and authority.
■♠■      Putting his creative writing background to good use, Watson creates narratives, atmospheres, and landscapes rather than mere thoughts and emotions. The smokey opener ‘Voices Carry Through the Mist’ establishes this visual imagery with lines such as “Feathers falling for a simple game, the silhouettes go on and on”. Taking inspiration from JG Ballard’s Hello, America!, it almost becomes a pastiche of a British writer’s idea of what America is like, but that somehow makes it more poetic, conjuring the space and haze of an opiate~fuelled road~trip. The opening five songs are all shambling doozies, floating along in charming but inconsequential foxtrots. ‘You’ve Got Your Way Of Leaving’ echoes Neil Young’s Journey Through The Past while ‘Love Is Blue’ recalls America’s ‘A Horse With No Name’. The album comes into focus in the standout ‘No Fanfare’. Kicked off with organ swells and shuddering guitar chords, it has a quietly building momentum, until it sweeps you away without you noticing. As he sings “What was it that lifted your soul when you thought it needed lifting?”, drums punctuate a shift, before an understated brass section gives a sense of optimism to the desolate wilderness. It emphasises the strength and sophistication of Watson’s composition: he has strong cards in his hand, but plays them at the right times, never overbearing the listener but subtly overwhelming them.
■♠■      There is musical range in the electronic jam of ‘Abandoned Buick’, but the thematics remain constant throughout. Even in the most powerful lyrics there is understatement, such as telling a lover in ‘Run and Hide’ that “Your magic still lies in your ordinariness”. In closer ‘Everything Goes Right’ we have another build, but this time he allows the fanfare, which then dwindles back down into a feedback that could circle into the haze that opens the album. There is no urgent message here or world~changing significance, but there is something beautifully comforting in the human humility and musical modesty.
■♠■      Other than the obvious similarity of his own duo She & Him, there are parallels to be drawn with M. Ward, as Watson creates music for music’s sake, rather than fussing over commercial constraints. There are flaws in the album, as some songs could be shortened a little and not every song connects, but once you start trying to add that individual polish, you would risk losing the essential character of the whole. As a solo debut, it is an album of assured intelligence.   ■♠■      http://drownedinsound.com/
Description:
■♠■      Charles Watson — the London based songwriter/producer and member of indie duo Slow Club and garage~rock super group The Surfing Magazines — announces the release of his debut solo record Now That I’m A River on 18th May via Moshi Moshi Records.
■♠■      Not only is this Watson’s solo debut but it also marks his first foray into production. Exploring his relationship with traditional harmony singing, Watson worked with sampled versions of his own voice to create unusual vocal textures.
■♠■      A former writing student of Central St Martins and The Faber Academy, Watson uses his own fiction writing as a spring board for his lyrics, a method he has also used for his previous records. The new album takes inspiration from the reoccurring themes and language of the JG Ballard novel ‘Hello America’. Now That I’m A River was co~produced by Watson with longtime collaborator David Glover at Tesla Studios in Sheffield and features a hand~picked band, including Guillemot’s Fyfe Dangerfield and Hot Club De Paris’ Paul Rafferty. Rozi Plain and members of The Deep Throat Choir and Trashkit also make an appearance on the album title track ‘Now That I’m A River’.
Bandcamp: https://charleswatson.bandcamp.com/album/now-that-im-a-river
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Charles Watson Now That I’m A River
Moshi Moshi Records May 18th, 2018

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