Patrick Watson, cantor of melancholy, tells himself through mystical melodies

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The Québécois released "Wave", sixth album conceived after a series of tests from which he emerged carrying a new attention for meaning, and a desire for renewed communion.

By Stéphane Davet Posted today at 07:00

Time to Reading 5 min.

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Patrick Watson in Quebec, in August 2019.
Patrick Watson in Quebec, in August 2019. Ilenia Tesoro

If a "wave" of events overwhelmed Patrick Watson's life before the recording of Wave, the quavering songs of this sixth album evoke less the devastating power of a storm than the strange calm that follows it. "If you try to fight against the wave that takes you, you drown", analyzes the frail pianist and singer from Quebec, moving easily from English to a French accent of the Belle Province. "Better to let yourself be carried away by the current before you start swimming again, even if you give up a part of yourself and of what your world was, to better rebuild yourself. "

Departure of the drummer (Robbie Kuster) and guitarist (Simon Angell) who, since their meeting at the jazz school, had built with him a unique instrumental complicity; separation from the mother of his children; death of his mother … This emotional tsunami first plunged him into a state of depressed stupor described in Dream For Dreaming, opening piece of the album. "Coming home from a tour, I found myself alone at homerecalls the singer. In this empty house, stripped of all my certainties, I had the impression of dreaming a life that was not mine. "

Haunted art of melancholy

What better voice than Patrick Watson to evoke this existential flutter and transcend the wave of these sorrows? Since his record debut at the turn of the 2000s, this cousin of Thom Yorke and Jeff Buckley captivates by encircling his emotions by the grace of a falsetto – the highest register of the masculine voice – in weightlessness, caring as much for ghosts as Angels. We find in Wave this haunted and sacred art of melancholy, guided by a piano and arrangements, mixing impressionistic play and heady melodic finds.

"Singing to commune with people in such important moments of their lives made me understand how powerful music was. "

His relationship to spectral is not new. "At the age of 7-8, I played piano every night, from midnight to 4 am," recalls the just quadra, born in California, before his parents moved to Hudson, a small town lost in the forest, west of Montreal. The hysteria of family relations urged him, he says, to rub shoulders with other worlds. "After a while, I felt like I was not playing, as if I was possessed. Later, I recorded one of these nocturnal sessions. While listening to them, a few years later, I realized that I was calling myself Gordon. " His mother then tells him that the piano he was playing on had belonged to his grandfather's brother, who died very young of polio. "His name: Gordon …" The pianist is still astonished, who also acknowledges having written his first texts to put into music the hallucinations he suffered at the end of his adolescence.

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