Monday, June 11, 2012

REVIEW: Patrick Watson - Adventures In Your Own Backyard

Patrick Watson - Adventures In the Backyard

The backyard seems like the place you’d find some sort of oasis from what lies beyond your front door, especially as a kid. But aging has a funny way of making the magic of the backyard seem like child’s play, a distant memory. Times when dreams felt more authentic than reality feel so distant from now. And yet, Montreal singer/songwriter Patrick Watson makes it feel as though this dreamful embrace isn’t all that far-fetched with his new album, Adventures In Your Own Backyard.

But this isn’t some psychedelic record that’s particularly abstract and weighted with a heavy dose of youthful nostalgia – or something that sounds a bit too whimsical. Instead, it’s a spirited yet relaxed 12-song collection of dreamy alternative chamber folk with tasteful additions of baritone guitars, orchestral strings, pedal steel, horns, and a sky full of reverb that all come together to create something that sounds both humble and grand. Watson sings with a sort of lilting falsetto that often approaches a near whisper, which makes each song on Adventures In Your Own Backyard sound as though he’s revealing something only a select few get to discover.

Album opener “Lighthouse” is bound to be one of this year’s most sobering, chilling, and dynamic songs: it begins with a gorgeous, meditative piano riff and builds to an epic, sweeping final chapter that sounds like the perfect score for a Spaghetti Western. “Blackwind” finds a cool yet energetic gallop of a rhythm with some bluegrass/folk styled percussion, which leads to another magnificent, very well-orchestrated conclusion. The ghostly “Morning Sheets” flows gracefully along with the shimmer and distant waves of orchestral strings, resulting in a rather elegant and sprawling track. Each track, whether it be big or small in scope, finds a way to fill a space as big as a canyon.

Adventures In Your Own Backyard is certainly a beautiful, at times magical album, but it occasionally has moments that are a bit less enthralling – as if you’re floating without an anchor. It’s not immediate – and the melodies don’t always rise high enough above the music’s alluring, dreamlike sound – but patient listeners will find themselves taken in by the undertow of the album’s overall ambiance. Adventures In Your Own Backyard is an evocative piece that makes even our most wondrous dreams seem like possible realities.

Patrick Watson - "Blackwind"

Adventures In Your Own Backyard is out now on Domino/Secret City.

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