Charles Watson and James Thorpe
West Malverrn Social Club – Friday 17th November 2023
Hailing originally from Sheffield and known for his roles in Slow Club and the indie surf supergroup, The Surfing Magazines, Charles Watson embarked on the journey of creating his debut LP, ‘Now That I’m A River,’ during the winter and spring of 2016/17.
Teaming up with his long-time collaborator, David Glover, at Sheffield’s Tesla Studios, Watson curated a hand-picked ensemble, featuring notable talents such as Fyfe Dangerfield from Guillemots and Paul Rafferty from Hot Club De Paris. Unlike his previous work, which often showcased his harmonious vocals, ‘Now That I’m A River’ took a distinct departure from vocal harmony. When harmony does make an appearance, it is primarily a sampled rendition of his own voice, meticulously placed in a mechanical and unconventional manner. This deliberate choice, according to Watson, served as a central production concept and a cornerstone of the album’s essence. Additionally, a whimsical call-and-response dynamic is introduced with a guest appearance by The Deep Throat Choir on the title track.
As a former student of writing at St Martins and The Faber Academy, Watson draws from his fiction-writing background to fuel his lyrical compositions. This creative process has been a consistent approach in his previous works. However, ‘Now That I’m A River’ finds its inspiration in the recurring themes and language found in J.G. Ballard’s novel, ‘Hello America.’ Branching out with a solo album after a decade in a band may not provide an immediate fresh start. Charles Watson, reflecting on his second solo album “YES,” describes his journey towards self-discovery and simplicity in his music. He transitioned from major keys and layered production to joyful lyrics and a stripped-back approach. He shed insecurities, aiming for clarity in his message. The track “I Was Sent Here to Love You” exemplifies this new approach, emphasizing the purity of emotion. The album delves into themes of watching life unfold, responding to loved ones in trauma, and personal growth catalysed by fatherhood. Watson seeks to minimize noise and embrace brightness in his music.