Patrick Watson - Close To Paradise

Rather like Bedknobs and Broomsticks, but without the fish playing saxophones.

Patrick Watson is a band, not a person. Well, it is a person and he's in the band. In fact, he's the front man of the band and he's the singer and he writes most of the lyrics, but we have to think of Patrick Watson as a band. Four people who couldn't be arsed to think up of a band name. Lazy buggers. Personally I think they've done it just to confuse people and to sound only ever so slightly pretentious. Which brings me to the album itself, Close to Paradise. Even the title gives of a whiff of self importance. As for the music, well for its entire running time, Close To Paradise is like a tightrope walker, with Paradise at the other end of his rope and beneath him a pit of pretentious, over elaborate nonsense. Listening, you're worried that at any moment the band may get a bit too full of themselves and fall into that pit but amazingly, and I really don't know how they've done it, they stay on that tightrope. You tell me how a band can mix jazz, rock, Gospel and a voice like Jeff Buckley and not sound like a bunch of pretentious art school wankers? Well, I wouldn't have thought it possible, but Pat, Rick, Wat, and Son have done it.


Close To Paradise is a real trip. It begins with what sounds like a distant steam train and a musical box before descending into a world of plodding piano chords, guitars that sound like whale song and a voice that seems to be singing inside a bottle. It's clear from the off that this album is going to take you somewhere and for me, that place was underwater.


Atlantis is a place I've read about and seen in a number of movies etc, but Close To Paradise made me create my own. Maybe it's because I first listened to this in the bath? Or maybe its just the amount of references to water in the lyrics? I don't know, but this album took me down, deep into an ocean until I found a city, a world underneath. Rather like Bedknobs and Broomsticks, but without the fish playing saxophones.


There's something wonderfully melancholic about this album, as if its being sung by a drunken tramp who used to live underwater and can't find his way back. Trust me, this is something special. Musically it flies all over the place, electronic loops sit next to banjos and then give way to throbbing bass lines and the kind of drumming normally reserved for smoky bars on a Sunday night. It comes at you from all angles, but that only helps to create this magical, ethereal world around you. It doesn't matter where you listen to this, in the bath, in the kitchen, on a bus, this will take you somewhere else. I wouldn't advise listening to this whilst driving or you find yourself driving into a canal without realising it.


Like Mercury Rev did with Deserter's Songs , Patrick Watson have created an album that is so utterly distinct from anything else you've heard. It creates its own little world and in turn, makes you create yours and isn't that what we are all looking for in music - to take us somewhere else ? If you're in need of a holiday from your everyday existence, then this is for you. It's quite possibly the most beautiful thing you'll hear all year. Hey, it's so good, it even lives up to that title.


Words : Damian Leslie