Who | Patrick Watson
When | November 16
Where | Heimathafen Neukölln, Berlin
A good number of musicians tend to create within the narrow parameters of whatever particular genre they think works for them, but it seems Patrick Watson (very thankfully) missed that memo. The Canadian singer-songwriter has experience all over the musical map, from playing in ska bands to studying classically in college, then later collaborating with jazz-infused electronica outfit, The Cinematic Orchestra (the result of which was his claim to semi-mainstream fame, ‘To Build a Home’). All of these varied influences melded and established the aesthetic foundation for his eponymous band, whose everything-but-the-kitchen-sink (but not excluding kitchen pots) sound shatters the borders of categorization.
Patrick Watson & Co’s unique fusion of indie rock, cabaret, psych, and classical music makes for songs that are massive and enveloping, bursting with life. And at the core of all of this daunting busy-ness is Watson’s gift for melody, which—when sung with his breathily angelic timbre—harnesses the organic and expressive power of the human voice to portray the human experience. Nowhere is this more apparent than on their latest LP, Love Songs for Robots, where atop lush instrumentation are soaring choruses and soulful gospel humming, working in tandem to express the emotional complexities of life. A perfect example of how Watson allows for the music to lead the narrative occurs midway through the album on the song ‘Hearts.’ The track begins by detailing the simultaneous pain and pleasure of falling in love, snowballing into the destructive codependence that can ensue (all emphatically shouted by Watson in harmony with his female counterpart), but then—all of a sudden—there’s a revelatory shift in the tone of the song, indiscreetly hinting that there may very well be hope after all.
Watson also appears to make use of his knack for letting things take their course during their live shows. Just this past May at Kreuzberg’s Gretchen venue, he delighted the audience with an intimate and impromptu (even for the band) performance of Adventures in Your Own Backyard’s ‘Into Giants’, oscillating between playing on the top of the bar and in the midst of the crowd (because who needs a stage, right?). Talk about off-the-cuff. The takeaway here: if you make it to one concert this month, make sure it’s Mr. Patrick Watson.