Patrick Watson’s newest album comes at end of two crazy years

On one highlight of his new album, Montreal’s Patrick Watson sings of waking up in Beijing in “someone else’s life,” one that he’s not sure belongs to him.

Canadian musician Patrick Watson. On his new album

TORONTO — On one highlight of his new album, Montreal’s Patrick Watson sings of waking up in Beijing in “someone else’s life,” one that he’s not sure belongs to him.

As is usually the case, he’s singing about a character. But in the turbulent years since his second album Close to Paradise landed the Polaris Music Prize in 2007, a travel-weary Watson frequently felt like his life was more than a little bit surreal.

“Imagine you put mashed potatoes on your glasses — that’s how I’d describe the last two years,” Watson said.

“Occasionally, a mashed potato would fall, and you’d say: ‘That’s the Eiffel Tower!’ Then the mashed potatoes would cover that back up.”

That sense of woozy wonder is prevalent on his third album, Wooden Arms, which drops Tuesday.

Watson’s tinkling piano and wispy falsetto are complemented by a pervasive percussive backbone on his new record, adding a more propulsive edge to his typically boundless cabaret pop.

“We wanted a percussive record,” Watson explained. “We want to get out of the droopy, big wall of sound.”

Watson describes his new album as a “science-fiction folk record, action-packed, filled with adventure.”

“It’s a real rollercoaster ride, I’m not going to lie,” he adds with a smile.

Lyrically, Watson says he was inspired by old episodes of The Twilight Zone.

Travelling Salesman, a foreboding march with verses punctuated with some stray guitar notes, is based on Watson’s vision of a depressed salesman sharing drinks with someone who has fallen from the sky, while the album’s title track features a character pining for the embrace of wooden arms.

The record also features a number of details that would seem to refer to Watson’s transitory lifestyle — though he says that wasn’t necessarily intentional.

“For sure we lived on the road, so for sure I think the album has a lot of travelling aspects to it,” he said.

Structurally, his new batch of songs is frequently surprising, which Watson says was by design.

“I’ve always liked composed music,” he said. “Which means, you’re just tryin to tell a story,and you go musically where the story takes you.

For me, that’s the best way to think about it. I don’t think it’s experimental and weird, you just tell a story.

“If a story doesn’t end back where it started, you don’t come back to where you started.”

Where Wooden Arms is self-consciously experimental is in its oddball instrumentation. Watson’s band utilizes pots and pans, drawers, scraps of metal and, on Beijing, drummer Robbie Kuster wails away on a bicycle.

“I wanted to stay away from regular backbeats and regular pop or rock drumming,” Kuster said.

“At some points, I was even sick of playing drums.

“Soundwise, I wanted to do bigger drums than Close to Paradise. Give me a bass kick the size of a car — I want big drums, I gotta feel them!”

Just Posted

Open call for musicians to play Ross Street Patio Parties in Red Deer

The City of Red Deer is inviting musicians from various different cultural… Continue reading

Red Deer monitoring creeks during spring melt

Residents advised to use common sense when approaching ice

Businesses worry about pricey budget promises

Alberta businesses are bracing for expensive promises the federal and provincial governments… Continue reading

Red Deer RCMP announce new officer in charge

The interim Red Deer RCMP officer in charge will now take on… Continue reading

Man caught during break and enter in Red Deer

Red Deer RCMP continue to investigate

WATCH: Celebrating francophone Canadians at the 10th annual Red Deer Winter Carnival

The event was hosted by the Red Deer region of the French-Canadian Association of Alberta Saturday

Family: Time to shed winter clothes and inhibitions

It has been a long, crazy cold winter. But, if the thermometer… Continue reading

Chelsea Carey rink registers two wins at world women’s curling event

SILKEBORG, Denmark — Canada’s Chelsea Carey rebounded nicely Sunday at the world… Continue reading

Canadian Bianca Andreescu has her first WTA title, winning BNP Paribas Open

INDIAN WELLS, Calif. — Canadian Bianca Andreescu has her first WTA title.… Continue reading

‘Captain Marvel’ soars even higher with stellar 2nd weekend

LOS ANGELES — “Captain Marvel” has continued to dominate the global box… Continue reading

Budget to focus on affordable housing changes on supply, demand, regulation

OTTAWA — The Trudeau government will take steps in Tuesday’s federal budget… Continue reading

Kenney lieutenant denies running ‘puppet’ candidate in party leadership race

EDMONTON — The staffer at the centre of a spreading scandal over… Continue reading

RCMP find ammunition, machete after searching for ATV reported stolen

FROG LAKE, Alta. — Police say they found 600 rounds of ammunition… Continue reading

Most Read