Album Review: Patrick Watson – Adventures in Your Own Backyard




Canadian band Patrick Watson, named after singer/songwriter and head of the band, has been making a strong name in the crowded, talented Montreal music scene since their surprise Polaris Prize win in 2007 for Close to Paradise. Watson’s brand of orchestral and melodically saturated music has drawn critical praise–and comparisons to Antony and the Johnsons and tour mate Andrew Bird–but for whatever reason, it hasn’t pushed them further into the indie-rock mainstream. With new album Adventures in Your Own Backyard, the songwriter makes a strong case for the band’s rightful place near the top.

Watson’s trademark is lush, melodic, and charming tunes that sound playful and larger than life; the songs on Adventures are no exception. Opening track “Lighthouse” starts with a quiet piano melody and the singer’s reverbed high tenor ever so lightly floating over the top like a mist on the grass. It evokes a still morning scene fit for a Bon Iver autumn. The music then explodes with marching snares, mariachi trumpets, and diving strings while Watson’s voice blends with the ringing cymbals and piano. The outdoor feeling switches to summer with mid-album highlight “Into Giants”, a bouncy, playful, nearly Simon and Garfunkel-esque tune. A backing choir is brought into the mix to give the track a fullness that will overcome you like a warm breeze.

The entire album has such a beautiful richness to it that it’s mind-boggling to discover that it was all recorded in the singer’s Montreal apartment – although you can hear the creaking of floorboards and chairs throughout, which only adds to the album’s charm and comfort. The title track starts with an door closing right as the rolling guitar arpeggio begins. It’s a simple touch that would drive some producers crazy, but it adds to the feel of the album. Nevertheless, Adventures in Your Own Backyard is jam-packed with instruments seemingly playing from an orchestral pit, each with their own movements and turns at the melody. A nice pair of headphones will bring you right to the bedroom floor.

Essential Tracks: “Lighthouse”, “Into Giants”, and “Adventures in Your Own Backyard”