Ben Watt – ‘Hendra’ (Caroline International)
It’s been over thirty years since Ben Watt released his first solo album North Marine Drive, and here is his second. In the meantime, he’s been A DJ, writer and most famously one half of Everything But The Girl with his wife Tracey Thorn. Though she took lead vocals on most of EGBT’s material during the two decades they recorded, Watt took lead vocal a few times himself and has the voice to handle it (check out ‘The Night I Heard Caruso Sing’ from 1988’s Idlewild or ‘Talk To Me Like The Sea’ from 1991’s Worldwide.)
I have to confess that this album did take me a few listens to get into, but once I took it all in one go s opposed to dipping in a few times, it made perfect sense. No it doesn’t just pick up where his debut solo album left off there’s been too much water under the bridge for that – and yet, it does continue in the same vein. It features contributions from Bernard Butler, and Berlin-based producer Ewan Pearson. The album’s standout track ‘The Levels’ features Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour.
It’s a thing of beauty this album, a pastoral work that doffs its cap to the likes of Robert Wyatt (a previous Watt collaborator), Richard Thompson at his most soulful and even John Martin. At times melancholic and at others uplifting, it’s a strong, coherent piece of work -and if he’d like to deliver a third album like this, in his own time, I’m sure many people would welcome it. This humble scribe included…
Hendra is out now on Caroline International