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Ben Watt


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'Fever Dream', the new solo album from Ben Watt is released worldwide on April 8th 2016 on Watt's own imprint Unmade Road through Caroline International.

It was in 2014 - after sixteen years and nine albums as songwriter-performer-producer with Tracey Thorn in best-selling duo Everything But The Girl, a further ten at the helm of his award-winning electronic label Buzzin' Fly, and a radio residency on BBC 6Music - that Watt returned to his roots as a solo singer and songwriter with 'Hendra', his second album. Arriving thirty-one years after his UK Independent Chart No. 1 debut, it met with wide acclaim at home and abroad for its eloquent lyrics and stripped-back aesthetic; it featured prominently in end-of-year round-ups and pipped Anna Calvi and Blood Orange to win Best 'Difficult' Second Album at the AIM Independent Music Awards 2014.

'Fever Dream' - self-produced at London's famous RAK Studio 2, and mastered by Bob Ludwig at Gateway Mastering in Maine - takes 'Hendra''s sonic template of open-tuned folk-jazz, distorted string-bent rock, and soulful rumination, and adds a fresh grainy intensity. It renews key partnerships with 'Hendra''s vaunted guitarist-sideman Bernard Butler and engineer Bruno Ellingham, and sprinkles guest vocal cameos from Boston's dream-folk singer-songwriter Marissa Nadler and Hiss Golden Messenger's M.C. Taylor.

"At the album's heart I just wanted to deepen existing relationships," Watt says. "Two years of playing live with Bernard has created a strong bond; the music we make feels spontaneous, ardent, unsentimental. We just went in and did most of it live. Small room, small band. A harder edge. Instruments spilling into each other."
The pair are joined by drummer / percussionist and longtime ally Martin Ditcham (Talk Talk's 'Spirit of Eden') and new double bassist Rex Horan (Laura Marling's 'Once I Was an Eagle' / Neil Cowley Trio), who in Watt's words "brilliantly blurs the boundaries between folk, jazz and rock".

"I chose the guests to suit," he goes on. "Marissa's sound is gothic and gauzy but tender and revealing. I pictured her with me on the key closing track [New Year of Grace] - which is a kind of answer to the album's opener [Gradually]. She was in London for twenty-four hours recently. I just doorstepped her on Twitter, and she said yes."

Watt's non-fiction writing and lyrics have been integral to his recent acclaim. His second memoir 'Romany and Tom' - a portrait of his parents' marriage - was longlisted for the prestigious Samuel Johnson Prize in 2014. (His first, 1996's 'Patient' was a New York Times 'Notable Book of the Year'). Novelist Jonathan Coe recently commented Watt is "beyond doubt one of the great British singer-songwriters", while The Guardian's senior rock critic Alexis Petridis called the writing on 'Hendra' "pretty much perfect".

Of the new songs, Watt says: "I got back from tour with a few notes for a new book, but life got in the way. Close friends were falling apart, my own relationships were being tested. I found I wanted to capture smaller snapshots about how love shifts over time, what endures, how we cope. And they became songs. Some came out darker and more troubled, others softer and more hopeful. And that then became the album structure. First half heavier, second half lighter. A sense of transformation, rather than just a collection of songs. I hadn't done that before."

It was in 1981 that Watt first appeared in London as a precocious nineteen year-old singer-songwriter-guitarist. His breakthrough 1982 EP 'Summer into Winter' featured alt-folk icon Robert Wyatt and drew comparisons with Tim Buckley. His early solo work may be overshadowed by his subsequent successes with Tracey Thorn, but his 1983 debut solo album 'North Marine Drive' reached #1 on the UK Independent Albums Chart.

"The music I heard in my teens - jazz, folk, art-rock - still cuts the deepest with me," he says. "I recently spent over ten years exploring instrumental electronic music and clubland" [he was nominated for Outstanding Contribution to Dance Music at DJ Magazine Awards 2009; and was a resident DJ on BBC 6Music's 6Mix from 2010-2014] "but have come back to language and that band-in-a-room spontaneity. The raw human voice, unaffected words, pushing simple instruments to their limits - that is now what fascinates me again."

'Fever Dream' is released on Unmade Road through Caroline International on April 8th 2016.
The Ben Watt Band feat. Bernard Butler will be on tour from April.

Ben Watt

Ben Watt

  • 19 Jan, 2017

    Ben Watt: 'The Making Of Hendra'

    Ben Watt's documentary from 2014 'The Making Of Hendra', is now available to view online either from his website or on YouTube.

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  • 22 Sep, 2016

    Ben Watt: UK & Europe Tour

    Ben Watt and his band which features Bernard Butler, will tour the UK & Europe throughout October.
    Tickets are available now.

  • 29 Feb, 2016

    Ben Watt: New Video 'Between Two Fires'

    Ben Watt unveils a new video for the track 'Between Two Fires', from the forthcoming 'Fever Dream' album, released on 8th April. Premiered in Clash Music.

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  • 04 Sep, 2014

    Aim Independent Music Awards 2014

    The AIM Independent Music Awards took place on 2nd September, in London. Amongst the winners were Primary Talent International artists:

    ...Ben Watt 'Hendra': Best 'Difficult' Second Album

    ...Dan le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip 'You Will See Me': Independent Video of the Year

    AIM Awards 2014
  • 16 May, 2014

    Ben Watt: To Be Joined Onstage By Pink Floyd's David Gilmour

    Ben Watt used Twitter last night to announce that Pink Floyd's David Gilmour will be playing on three songs at his London show next week at Islington Assembly Hall on Monday May 19. The rare appearance follows Gilmour's cameo on Watt's recently-released acclaimed album, 'Hendra'.

    Having already assembled the album's original band for the first time for the date, including ex-Suede guitarist Bernard Butler, the addition of rock titan Gilmour is an unexpected bonus.

    "We met by chance last September just before my album," says Watt. "It has all just fallen into place since then. First the album cameo and now this. He came down to rehearsal today to play pedal steel on 'The Levels' - the album track he's on - and now he's joining in on three.
    His lead playing is just great. It is an honour to be up there with him and Bernard Butler at the same time."

    Watt and Gilmour have already recorded and filmed a different acoustic version of 'The Levels' together earlier this year at Gilmour's studio on the south coast that was premiered by Q Magazine.

    Remaining tickets for the London show from:

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  • 14 Apr, 2014

    Ben Watt: Reviews For New Album 'Hendra'

    Released today Ben Watt's new album 'Hendra' has been receiving some excellent reviews in the UK media:

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  • 11 Apr, 2014

    Ben Watt: Live On Radio 1 (Belgium)

    Ben Watt performs 'Hendra' live on Radio 1 (Belgium).

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  • 25 Mar, 2014

    Ben Watt: New Track 'Nathaniel'

    New track from Ben Watt's forthcoming album 'Hendra', out on 14th April, entitled 'Nathaniel'. Featuring Bernard Butler on lead guitar.

  • 05 Nov, 2013

    Ben Watt: Live On BBC 6Music

    Ben Watt (vocals, guitar) accompanied by Bernard Butler (guitar). A live session of three brand new songs for the Gideon Coe show on BBC 6Music.
    The songs are part of Ben's new solo album, currently being recorded and due for release next spring. Hear Ben and Bernard live in November.

  • 10 Oct, 2013

    Bernard Butler Confirmed To Play On All Dates Of Ben Watt's November Solo Uk Tour

    With his recent return to songwriting and guitar-playing triggering an unexpected new solo studio album due for next spring produced by Ewan Pearson, Ben Watt is now excited to announce that current collaborator and acclaimed guitarist Bernard Butler will be joining him on the whole of his upcoming November solo tour of the UK.

    "Bernard was one of the first people I turned to when embarking on this new road," says Watt. "His grainy sound in the perfect foil to my new open-tuned approach, and when he played unannounced on the recent sold-out London shows in August, it was just a great fit. He is playing a prominent role on the current album, and now to have him play with me onstage on all of these November dates is fantastic news. The combined sound is incredibly atmospheric and heart-felt. An amazing backdrop for the songs."

    The tour - which showcases much of Ben's new material and revisits several songs from his very early days - starts in Bristol on Nov 11, and ends after five back-to-back nights in Birmingham on Nov 15.

    Don't miss these two great guitarists and performers together.