14 Songs, 58 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

For more than 30 years after his last solo album, Ben Watt kept busy with Everything but the Girl—the stylized duo he fronted with his wife, Tracey Thorn—and with writing books that further testified to his superior observation powers. As part of EBTG, he introduced the kind of atmospheric adult synth-folk-pop that’s being imitated more than ever in the '10s by indie groups and well known acts such as The xx. For this 2014 solo album, Watt settles into a muted sound where the dance rhythms have been exiled and the electric pianos make their way onto a song called “Matthew Arnold’s Field,” which sounds much like the approach Duncan Sheik has used since turning away from mainstream pop-rock. Guests here are kept to a minimum, with producer Ewan Pearson and Suede guitarist Bernard Butler the common collaborators. David Gilmour makes a desirable but not Pink Floyd–like appearance on the atmospheric “The Levels.” For an uptick in tempo, “Young Man’s Game” offers a standard band arrangement with solid drums, organ, and electric guitar accompaniment on a tune that addresses how Watt isn't the cat he used to be. The deluxe version adds acoustic demos of three tunes and a live performance of “Forget.”

Mastered for iTunes

EDITORS’ NOTES

For more than 30 years after his last solo album, Ben Watt kept busy with Everything but the Girl—the stylized duo he fronted with his wife, Tracey Thorn—and with writing books that further testified to his superior observation powers. As part of EBTG, he introduced the kind of atmospheric adult synth-folk-pop that’s being imitated more than ever in the '10s by indie groups and well known acts such as The xx. For this 2014 solo album, Watt settles into a muted sound where the dance rhythms have been exiled and the electric pianos make their way onto a song called “Matthew Arnold’s Field,” which sounds much like the approach Duncan Sheik has used since turning away from mainstream pop-rock. Guests here are kept to a minimum, with producer Ewan Pearson and Suede guitarist Bernard Butler the common collaborators. David Gilmour makes a desirable but not Pink Floyd–like appearance on the atmospheric “The Levels.” For an uptick in tempo, “Young Man’s Game” offers a standard band arrangement with solid drums, organ, and electric guitar accompaniment on a tune that addresses how Watt isn't the cat he used to be. The deluxe version adds acoustic demos of three tunes and a live performance of “Forget.”

Mastered for iTunes
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Ratings and Reviews

4.4 out of 5
18 Ratings
18 Ratings
iamthelab ,

Sublime perfection.

Honest and uncomplicated, this is the best album of the year so far. Standouts are Spring and Golden Ratio. The latter has a subtle echo of EBTG’s Amplified Heart era, making me miss them even more, but I digress. This is a marvelous album all to itself and Ben has never sounded better vocally. Brilliant!

Marklvis ,

Great album; delete and reload the tracks

This is a great album, unfussy and uncomplicated; beautiful vocals and guitar work. Fans of EBTG and "North Marine Drive" should enjoy it. Previous reviewer: iTunes does have support; delete the tracks that won't play; you should be able to re-download them and they should then play fine.

smiley mylo ,

Ben Watt - Hendra.... the good and the bad

Great and Awesome tunes. Only problem is, not every purchased song is playing. It says it's authorized but won't play. Since itunes wont fix anything and there is no customer service, there's nothing to do but say I paid for "part of an album" when I paid for the whole thing. I wish itunes was as good as this music. Good luck....

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