Having culminated much of his fanbase in the early doors of internet-fandom, Lewis Watson has spent a decade capturing and sustaining the attention of an ardent following.
Watson has navigated the online landscape with ease, his presence acting as an accessible mediator between his fans and the music they love. To think he is not yet thirty would come as a shock to most considering the breadth of his presence in the scene of UK singer-songwriters.
Beyond this, he is still considered to be a relatively undiscovered talent. Three albums into this career he arrives at ‘the love that you want’, a body of work that encounters as many stand-outs as it does dips.
Watson and longtime producer Richard Wilkinson put the album together over the course of a year. Wilkinson has many studio credentials (HONNE, White Lies, Bombay Bicycle Club) - but continues his most in-depth musical relationship with Watson, where all instruments but the album’s strings are a result of their work together.
‘the love that you want’ picks apart relationships to their core - losing them, maintaining them, making regrettable mistakes within them. The lyrics are thoughtful and often tender, but that level of feeling just as often drifts into clichés, found in the more commercially orientated ‘meant for me’ and ‘spark’. With this, Watson draws from a lot of reference points that are all too familiar.
Watson himself has referred to the album as a ‘level up sonically’ and this is certainly justified in the album’s best moments. The arrangements work best when they branch out from the subconscious expectations of where the song might go - places where the album really hits its stride such with sequenced drums, beautiful strings and piano on tracks such as ‘because of you’ and ‘echoes’.
Album closer ‘(bring you home’) is a welcome surprise, evocative of cinematic 90’s rock. Under the blanket of a vocoder, he repeats, ‘we were perfect, don’t you remember?’. It’s evidence he increasingly comfortable to not rely on what he knows best, and is an excellent moment.
There are no doubts Watson’s fanbase will welcome this album with open arms. A nice collection of melancholy folk-pop, ‘the love that you want’ benefits most from Watson’s bravest sonic and lyrical decisions.
Words: Shannon McDonagh
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