Wednesday, 14 May 2014


cover art
Here I hand the pages over to Tim Patrick from Toronto. 
I tried to host all of the videos but they froze my screen so, please just click on the links. 
I have the album and agree with Tim, it's a fine album. 
It also led me to his two books, an autobiography 'Patient' and the story of his parents troubled life together 'Romany and Tom':

Toronto Tim Says:

Ben Watt's new solo album 'Hendra' has arrived 
I'd heard a couple of promising clips earlier, and David (Friend Of Rachel Worth & former blogmeister of the sorely missed Cathedrals Of Sound) had mentioned that it's his 'Album Of The Year' (so far), so I was eager to give it a spin. I must say that Dave was right. 'Hendra' is excellent... I'm so glad Watt has put "DJ-Disco Ben" on the back-burner, and gone back to his roots. This seems like continuation of his last solo album 31 years ago - 'North Marine Drive' mixed with a dash of his more successful band Everything But the Girl (with sidekick/wife Tracey Thorn).

Musically, this is classy record. Warm, clean electric guitars played by Watt and collaborator Bernard Butler, gentle Fender Rhodes/Hammond, a steady rhythm section and occasional shadings of synth. Pink Floyd's David Gilmour stops by to add some tasteful slide guitar on the breathtakingly lovely "The Levels". Ben's voice sounds richer and stronger than ever.

It's also a very personal, contemplative record. Watt explains on his blog: 
"Lyrically, I definitely wanted to write a bunch of unsentimental songs. I wanted to write a set of songs that were very true. My sister, who I was very close to, died, quite unexpectedly. She was only 58. It all came to head, and I wanted to get some of this stuff down. It’s quite dark emotionally, but I always think I write songs about some form of resilience. There is some form of hope, even in the darker moments. I’m always looking for that in the characters in the songs. They have a tough exterior, even if they have a soft interior." 

The songs? There are so many good ones. Let's begin with the one that breaks my heart every time I hear it ... 

"THE LEVELS" -  A simple tune with a powerful, haunting lyric. One of those "dart to the heart" songs, such as: "Family Life", "Sister Song", "Mid-Air", "If I Fall Behind" that evoke empathy and emotion, and leave an immortal wound on the listener. The lyric tells a poignant story - with utter honesty and grace. I dare you not to be moved. Especially after you hear the inspiration behind the song... 
Ben reveals: "The song is set in the low-lying area of the Somerset Levels. It was where my sister got married in 2004. The song is about how we deal with loss. She died unexpectedly in 2012. I wrote it for her husband..."


The estate agent's been over, I've resurfaced the driveway
I'm setting flowers out on the pavement, made it nice round the place
I'm up for selling the business, my heart isn't in it 
Without your face over the counter, without your face

Some nights I drive out on the levels
Through the village, past the church where we got married
And I can see for miles

Out there is the future, what's this standing in my way?
Right now it's my past, and it's not moving forth

Some nights I'm out there on the levels
And the ditches and the fields are flooded by the river
And I can see for miles

And I know its only daylight that we all walk through
And everyone has wounds that heal with time
And I'll get over mine 

Some nights I'm out there on the levels
And we're talking like we used to
But it's me who does the talking
And I'll be out there for a while

And I can see for miles...

- The Levels (live w/ David Gilmour on pedal steel): 

"YOUNG MAN'S GAME" - a candid ballad of soul-searching, regret and surrender; reflecting on his journey from DJ/clubber to middle-aged Dad/husband, admitting: "I'm not as good as I used to be, with the late nights, now just look at me, I'm staking a claim at the young man's game tonight" and asking: “Every mirror just tells the time - Can you name a great fighter over 45?” "Should I act this out, or act my age, tonight?" 

"GOLDEN RATIO" - probably the closest reminder of the elegant bossanova /jazz vibe that EBTG excel at. Bernard Butler guitar-playing shines.

"FORGET" - Breezy mid-tempo ditty reminds me a little of Lloyd Cole for some reason. Maybe the self-loathing... "Who am I fooling, when I say I have no regrets. You can push things to the back of your mind, but you can never forget..." 

"HENDRA" - the moving title track, inspired by the dreams of his late sister, a rural postmistress and shopkeeper... 

There are five more fine tracks on 'Hendra'... Notably “Matthew Arnold’s Field” where Watt travels to scatter his father’s ashes near Oxford. Only one possible misstep - "The Gun" which is an anti-gun rant that just seems out of place with the nature/flow of the record. Sorry, I have a pet peeve about being preached at...  

Overall, a very special record. I rate it 8/10. 
Let's hope Mr. Watt doesn't wait for another 30 years before another solo release...

Ben Watt official website:


  1. Yes, I obtained this in vinyl as part of Record Store Day 2014 - it is a lovely thing and a return to form after all that DJing stuff he's been doing lately. Good choice Tim.

  2. Not read his new one but patient is excellent . Tracey thorns book is a good one as well.