Monday, 8 October 2007


(Secret City, 2007)

Close to Paradise
Slip Into Your Skin
Giver (mp3)
Weight of the World
The Storm
Mr. Tom
Luscious Life (mp3)
Man Under the Sea
The Great Escape
Sleeping Beauty
Bright Shiny Lights

"On the one hand it's impossible to ignore Patrick Watson as a classic singer-songwriter; the charming young piano-player with the haunting voice. The big impact of an otherwise simple song like "The Great Escape" is a testament to the attention that Patrick's voice, delivery and sensibility command. Just try and avoid vocal comparisons to Jeff Buckley on "Luscious Life" (inflected with just a bit of Sufjan Stevens-like orchestration), or the penetrating stripped-down gospel of "Bright Shiny Lights". In some ways Close to Paradise is the coming-out party for one of Canada's most exciting young vocalists. He's already been enlisted by the Cinematic Orchestra for both songwriting and vocal duties on their next album.

But on the other hand, Close to Paradise also features three other incredibly strong musicians just beginning to enter their prime, both in terms of skill and contributing song ideas. Robbie Kuster might be the best drummer in Montreal (recently lured out on tour and into the studio with Holy Fuck), and between him and Mishka Stein on bass, the band has the ability to bolt from dreamy ballad to all out intricate rock assault and back again without blinking an eye. Simon Angell is among that rare breed of guitarist that can do more with one subtle and well-timed chord as others can with a whole song of throw-away notes. He can stand and slay with the best of them, but it's when he's patiently seated and kneeling at his arsenal of effects pedals that you've really got to be on your guard. Consider that Kuster co-wrote the ethereal electronics of "Daydreamer", that Stein laid the foundation to "Luscious Life" (arguably the album's most accessible moment of pop assault), and that Angell adds songwriting to his banjo credit on the apocalyptic dustbowl of "The Storm", and it's clear that we're dealing with a two-headed monster - at least. Close to Paradise is also a serious trip of a record by as tight a four piece band as you'll find."