Album Review : Lewis Watson – The Morning

After five highly successful EP’s, years of gathering an online following as well as touring a lot of the world, there’s no time like the present for the ever-growing Lewis Watson to release his debut album; this record is guaranteed to entertain his long-time fans and flawless attempt to appeal to a whole new audience. The Morning is an exceptional illustration of Watson’s distinctive and charismatic musical and lyrical flair through delicate acoustic guitars and cyclical choruses underneath an exquisitely captivating voice.

Album opener, ‘Stones around the sun’ strikes out a little from Watson’s usual acoustic-vocal-troubadour style demonstrating an intriguing arrangement of vocals over melody. Beginning with keys and a simple chronic beat building into a crafty fusion of subtle synth and guitars underneath as Watson warbles the recurring line, “When you pull back far enough/ we are only stones around the sun.” Based around the notion that we are all part of something bigger, the way that Watson has tied this into a previous love affair is both spectacular and fresh.

Watson is most renowned on the interweb for writing both breakup songs and love songs that are relevant and The Morning shows no change in his usual compelling lyrical aptitude. In ‘Holding on’ Watson speaks of losing the sparks in a relationship, yet not wanting to fully let go, “If this is the easy way out, why am I finding it hard as hell?” recurs through a sublime chorus and “Why are we holding on?” is repeated throughout and underneath the concluding chorus. ‘Ghost’ is Watson finally letting go of being in the “friend-zone” as he refers to himself as a ghost now, the guitar is impressively stripped back put underneath haunting oohs’ and aah’s to match the troubling lyricism as Watson whines “Just like a ghost, I float by unnoticed / by the one I loved most, the one I held closest / well I am a ghost, just haunting myself” throughout a hauntingly-dreamy chorus. The strong imagery of the dying embers of a love fading away in end track ‘Castle Street’ is a testament to Watson’s knack of finding moments others can easily relate to as he weeps about mixed feelings, “If we’re done, how come I feel love?” and past fights in relationships, “We said some things we didn’t mean, with us there is no in-between.” Hidden track, ‘The Morning’ displays no change in Watson’s authenticity, as it is a love song in the form of a simple vocal and guitar, completely untouched by any production.

‘Halo’ tackles the idea of someone not knowing how much they mean to another and how perfect they really are and whether it’s a love song or not, it’s undeniable that Watson has composed this flawlessly. Halo’ features backing vocals from Amy Wadge harmonizing remarkably to equal the concept of the track. Watson and Wedge croon “It’s a wonder you don’t know how wonderful you are / you have a halo” over simple soothing guitar picking and spellbinding keys.

Although, The Morning isn’t all about love and heartbreak as standout track ‘Outgrow’ shows a more mature side to Watson that wasn’t always fully perceptible in his love/breakup songs. ‘Outgrow’ features a Ben Howard-like plucking of guitar strings fused with synthesisers and a meek and subtle background beat underneath darker lyrics. Watson sings a beautifully bittersweet song about growing older with lines like “When was the last time we stayed up to count the stars? / When was the last time we said that the world was ours?” And a simple “Oh mother (or father) I’m outgrown” this track is a painfully profound reminder of the way things change so fleetingly.

Watson has an extraordinary forte for taking a simple idea and making it into something mesmerizing, and ‘Stay’ is a key demonstration of this talent. Based around a dream Watson had of a girl singing him a song, waking up without being able to remember how it went and wanting to return to that place. He croons “It was so clear but now it’s gone/ I couldn’t keep my eyelids shut / why can’t you stay? / If only I could dream, we could start again” over a mix of bright guitar, chronically subtle drumbeat and the occasional hitting of piano keys. Yet again, the lyricism in this could be easily relatable to relationships, showing Watson genuinely has an authentic flair for his trade.

Also featured on The Morning are re-mastered tracks from each of his previous releases. From the first EP, It’s got four sad songs on it BTW, ‘Windows’ was polished although the album version regrettably lacks the raw charisma that was provided upon the first release although still a gripping track overall. ‘Sink or Swim’ was taken from the second EP, Another four sad songs, and the track again shows an established side to Watson as he sings about risk taking rather than just heart-broken weeping although ‘Once Before’ could’ve possibly fitted better with the recurring heartbreak theme in The Morning, From third EP, Four more songs, ‘Close’ was re-mastered and featured although again fitting in with the frequent theme in the record perhaps ‘Songs that we wrote when we were drunk’ could have possibly fitted better. ‘Into the wild’ was taken from Watson’s Into The Wild EP and fitted well lyrically and ties into ‘Outgrown’ and ‘Sink or swim’ as Watson warbles about stepping out into a big wild world. “We take another step into the truly unknown / don’t know why but its somewhere we have to go/ it’s dangerously wonderful.”

The Morning is Watson’s big step out into the wild, and with this step he has crafted a auspicious blueprint to carve his future musical pathway. With his wistful voice, startling guitar ability and hypnotic lyricism, Watson could have easily manufactured an album like Passenger or Jack Johnson but instead thrusted his work further producing a record that is raw, ingenuous and overall breathtaking as he expresses maturity many singer-songwriters his age are lacking and a wisdom that tells us he is going to be around for a while.

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