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

Hospitalizations jump in Red Deer due to opioid poisonings

Small city hospitals impacted more by opioid crisis

Central Alberta councils learn more about Bighorn Country proposal

A collection of central Alberta politicians are learning more about the province’s… Continue reading

High-speed chase led to fatal collision, jury hears

A Delburne man accused of manslaughter caused a fatal rollover collision during… Continue reading

‘Part of the solution:’ Alberta seeks proposals to build new refinery

EDMONTON — Alberta is looking for someone to build a new oil… Continue reading

Online ads spoil Christmas surprises, raising privacy concerns: experts

Lisa Clyburn knew she had found the perfect gift for her nine-year-old… Continue reading

Sebastian Giovinco, Jonathan Osorio and Adriana Leon up for top CONCACAF awards

Toronto FC’s Sebastian Giovinco and Jonathan Osorio are up for CONCACAF male… Continue reading

Huitema, Cornelius named 2018 Canadian Youth International Players of the Year

TORONTO — Canada Soccer has named striker Jordyn Huitema and defender Derek… Continue reading

Review: Too much Spider-Man? Not in the Spider-Verse

You might be forgiven for feeling superhero overload this holiday season. Had… Continue reading

‘Modern Family’s’ Sarah Hyland had second kidney transplant

LOS ANGELES — “Modern Family” star Sarah Hyland says she had a… Continue reading

Orlando SC acquires Canadian Tesho Akindele in trade with FC Dallas for cash

ORLANDO, Fla. — Canadian forward Tesho Akindele was traded to Orlando City… Continue reading

Koskinen notches third shutout, McDavid gets winner as Oilers blank Flames 1-0

EDMONTON — The Edmonton Oilers appear to have shored up their defence… Continue reading

Most Read