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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.


Born: December 6, 1962 in London, England

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Ben Watt is best known as half of the duo Everything But the Girl, which first performed together in 1982. That year, EBTG's Tracey Thorn released her solo debut, A Distant Shore, while Watt released his, North Marine Drive, the following year. Watt's LP went to number one on the U.K. indie charts and included a cover of Bob Dylan's "You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go." Everything But the Girl's early material was lite-jazz, but their major international breakthrough came in the dance music...
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Hendra, Ben Watt
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