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|3. Step Out For A While|
|4. The Quiet Crowd|
|5. Into Giants|
|6. Morning Sheets|
|7. Words In The Fire|
|8. Things We Do|
|9. Strange Crooked Road|
|10. Noisy Sunday|
|11. Adventures In Your Own Backyard|
|12. Swimming Pools|
His graceful touch is evident right from the album’s opening seconds, where he strokes out the simplest of melodies from his piano before barely whispering the opening lines: "Leave a light on in the wild / ‘Cos I’m coming in a little blind". It’s as still as a misty lake at dawn, and equally as beautiful; but Watson is a man of many sides, and after three minutes so impalpable as to be hardly there, Lighthouse suddenly bursts into a mariachi-flavoured celebration, slow enough to be funereal and yet full of joy. It’s this kind of bittersweet melancholy that he pursues masterfully throughout this set’s dozen songs, whether on Blackwind – distinguished by the lightest of strings and hints of pedal steel – or Quiet Crowd, a piano ballad that blossoms unexpectedly into the sweetest, if briefest, of sing-alongs, its flutes trilling playfully while chamber-pop violins swoon in the background.
Opening single, Into Giants, is more obviously upbeat, a shuffling slice of homey folk that fades out midway, only to emerge on the back of a triumphant trumpet fanfare, while Morning Sheets is a more dramatic, orchestral track that might even pass for an updated take on the ambitious pop Radiohead undertook on The Bends. But it’s the subtlety of Watson’s approach – whether he’s serenading us with the sweet comfort of Words in the Fire or offering a Broadway pastiche in a style familiar to fans of Rufus Wainwright – that makes this such a special record. Others this year will be brasher, more immediate, and maybe more innovative, but few will be lovelier, more rewarding or, indeed, better.
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