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Alternative & Indie - Released January 31, 2020 | Caroline International (S&D)

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Like Fever Dream before it, Storm Damage was born of personal anguish -- it was written after the loss of Ben Watt's half-brother and in the midst of the sociopolitical turmoil of the late 2010s -- but the album sounds and feels different than its predecessor. Chalk that up to Watt's decision to create Storm Damage with what he calls "a future-retro trio," a combo consisting of a piano, double bass, and drums, supplemented by various synths and found sounds. The result is a hushed yet an intense affair, an album whose conflicted emotions are apparent but presented in a fashion that's so subdued, it's nearly soothing. The soft, subtle tension between the deeply felt songs and the smooth, sophistication of the execution is quite rewarding, since the album can alternately play like a plea or a balm, depending on mood or timing. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Alternative & Indie - Released April 8, 2016 | Unmade Road

With 2014's Hendra, DJ, producer, label owner, and author Ben Watt resumed his career as a solo singer/songwriter after 31 years as a collaborator with Tracey Thorn (his wife) in Everything But the Girl. Fever Dream proves Hendra wasn't just a one-off to scratch an artistic itch. The complications of life events -- the death of his parents and step-sister, the changing nature of long-term relationships among his friends and family -- needed to be made sense of, and the songs wouldn't leave him alone. With Bernard Butler returning on lead guitar, drummer Martin Ditcham, and upright bassist Rex Horan, Watt delivers ten new songs that delve into the joys, conflicts, ends, and renewals of love of many kinds. Self-produced, these songs are rendered with Watt's requisite grace and attentiveness, not only to sound and words, but also to musical inspirations. Opener "Gradually" engages his love for Neil Young and Crazy Horse with Butler's distorted, stuttering electric guitars, sweet vocal harmonies, and lyrics that reference the loss of self that occurs with the first rush of love, and the doubt that emerges as time passes: "No words are on your lips/we pass like silent ships/Can I prove we exist/Where are the hours we missed/This summer night is clear/I still want you near/I don't know where I am/or who I used to be." The title track reflects the weight of everyday life on passion. It contains a jazzier feel, with hand percussion and slippery guitar chords that recall John Martyn in his post-Grace & Danger period; Hiss Golden Messenger's M.C. Taylor makes a guest vocal appearance. The grain in each of their voices etches its own stark portrait of romantic uncertainty. The tone of the recording shifts halfway through; the themes become more accommodating if not celebratory. The music is more delicate, but no less poignant. Watt's love of the iconic hybrid of Pentangle's British folk-jazz emerges in the gorgeous "Faces of My Friends." In "Running with the Front Runners," a dreamy bossa rhythm slips effortlessly amid acoustic and electric guitars and sparse, atmospheric keyboards. Set-closer "New Year of Grace," with backing vocals from Marissa Nadler, counterbalances the doubt and darkness in "Gradually." Fingerpicked, minor-key acoustic guitar, and a well-placed, intermittent cello, flute, and upright bass underscore Watt singing about the unexpected and sometimes shattering moments of beauty that emerge in relationships -- when one is willing to absorb their difficulties rather than run from them. Watt interrogates love and its stages thoroughly on Fever Dream, yet in the end he unequivocally affirms it. His songs are resonant with the weight of experience, and his musical settings, even in their relative sparsity, are powerful and at times nearly elegant. ~ Thom Jurek
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Alternative & Indie - Released April 11, 2014 | Unmade Road

Calling Hendra Ben Watt's first solo album in 31 years is true but it's also misleading. Watt was always active during those three decades, devoting himself first to Everything But the Girl -- the duo he had with his wife Tracey Thorn -- and once that group came to a creative end around the turn of the millennium (the pair remained married), he steadily worked as a DJ, sometimes releasing dance compilation albums, while also authoring the acclaimed 1996 book Patient. Of these two endeavors, Patient may be the closest touchstone to Hendra, Watt's 2014 album, as the record is hushed and intimate, often suggesting not so much a confessional as a quiet, impassioned conversation with an old friend. There's no hint of dance music, which isn't to say Hendra is devoid of rhythm. Watt dabbles with bossa nova and often follows a pleasingly relaxed pop shuffle, the kind of pattern that enlivens a sweet melody without distracting from it. Throughout Hendra, Watt achieves this delicate balance, preserving a sense of tranquility that's never monotonous. Often, it feels as if there are no more than two musicians on a given track, a claim that is occasionally true but this speaks more to the intimacy of Watt and his handful of collaborators, usually producer Ewan Pearson and guitarist Bernard Butler, than it does to the actual arrangements. David Gilmour comes in to color "The Levels" and he manages not to overwhelm and even surprises, avoiding textures and phrases that have become signatures, functioning as a painter, not a featured artist. This speaks to the careful craft of Hendra: every element is in the right place but Watt is smart enough to leave some elements undone, giving the album a human heart that's evident no matter how deliberate the entire affair may be. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Alternative & Indie - Released January 31, 2020 | Caroline International (S&D)

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Alternative & Indie - Released January 17, 2020 | Caroline International (S&D)

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Alternative & Indie - Released September 24, 2019 | Caroline International (S&D)

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Pop - Released January 1, 1983 | Cherry Red Records

"...benefits from a breadth of melodic vision and an emotional range that veers from painful nostalgia to vicious self-loathing..."
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Alternative & Indie - Released January 3, 2020 | Caroline International (S&D)

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Alternative & Indie - Released April 11, 2014 | Unmade Road

Calling Hendra Ben Watt's first solo album in 31 years is true but it's also misleading. Watt was always active during those three decades, devoting himself first to Everything But the Girl -- the duo he had with his wife Tracey Thorn -- and once that group came to a creative end around the turn of the millennium (the pair remained married), he steadily worked as a DJ, sometimes releasing dance compilation albums, while also authoring the acclaimed 1996 book Patient. Of these two endeavors, Patient may be the closest touchstone to Hendra, Watt's 2014 album, as the record is hushed and intimate, often suggesting not so much a confessional as a quiet, impassioned conversation with an old friend. There's no hint of dance music, which isn't to say Hendra is devoid of rhythm. Watt dabbles with bossa nova and often follows a pleasingly relaxed pop shuffle, the kind of pattern that enlivens a sweet melody without distracting from it. Throughout Hendra, Watt achieves this delicate balance, preserving a sense of tranquility that's never monotonous. Often, it feels as if there are no more than two musicians on a given track, a claim that is occasionally true but this speaks more to the intimacy of Watt and his handful of collaborators, usually producer Ewan Pearson and guitarist Bernard Butler, than it does to the actual arrangements. David Gilmour comes in to color "The Levels" and he manages not to overwhelm and even surprises, avoiding textures and phrases that have become signatures, functioning as a painter, not a featured artist. This speaks to the careful craft of Hendra: every element is in the right place but Watt is smart enough to leave some elements undone, giving the album a human heart that's evident no matter how deliberate the entire affair may be. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Alternative & Indie - Released November 20, 2019 | Caroline International (S&D)

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Alternative & Indie - Released October 22, 2019 | Caroline International (S&D)

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Alternative & Indie - Released November 17, 2014 | Unmade Road

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Dance - Released October 19, 2008 | Buzzin' Fly

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Alternative & Indie - Released November 17, 2014 | Unmade Road

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Dance - Released April 19, 2009 | Buzzin' Fly