Everything But the Girl's Ben Watt has announced a return to his solo career, 31 years after issuing his last LP, 1983's acoustic-geared North Marine Drive. The long-awaited follow-up, Hendra, hits stores April 29 through his own Unmade Road imprint (via Caroline International).
Described by Watt in a press release as "a folk-rock record in an electronic age," the album comes in the wake of the last several years running the Buzzin' Fly label and performing DJ sets on the club circuit, with the artist now looking for a change of pace.
"I had come to a plateau with the labels and clubland," Watt said in a statement. "I had a need to go back to words and music, not just beats and other people's work. Once I made some space, a lot of ideas just tumbled out."
Noting "I'd left things unfinished," the tracks on Hendra began taking shape following the death of his sister and while writing his second novel, Romany and Tom, with the artist taking to his basement to craft the song cycle.
"My mind was full of a lot of stuff," he added. "I just went down into the basement at home every night and retuned all my guitars into unfamiliar tunings as a way of beginning again and just started singing."
Described as featuring "songs about close family and strangers, resilience and hope," the set is said to mix "languid folk" with buzzing electronics. The album was recorded in Berlin and London, and Watt teamed up in the respective cities with ex-Suede guitarist Bernard Butler and Berlin-based producer Ewan Pearson.
"I turned instinctively to Bernard very early on," Watt said. "I knew his overdriven, string-bent intensity would be the perfect foil to my own warm open-tuned style. It adds tension to the songs. Ewan has a foot in both my recent worlds. He can do thrumming Berlin techno, but also things of great delicacy and grace. I also wanted his vintage '70s poly-synths as a contrasting color, and a burnished 3-D sound, which of course both play to his strengths."
A chance meeting with Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour also led to another cameo on the LP, with the classic rock icon playing slide guitar on Hendra's "The Levels."
The physical CD and LP editions of Hendra contain 10 new tunes, while the vinyl edition comes packaged with a download code offering up three demos and a live take of the set's "Forget."
You'll find the tracklisting details down below, where you'll also find a few U.S. tour dates and a stream of the spacious, downtempo title track [via the Guardian].
4. Golden Ratio
5. Matthew Arnold's Field
6. The Gun
8. The Levels
9. Young Man's Game
10. The Heart is a Mirror
11. Hendra (Demo) *
12. Spring (Demo) *
13. Young Man's Game (Demo) *
14. Forget (Live) *
* bonus digital track
04/01 New York, NY - Joe's Pub
04/02 Brooklyn, NY - Rough Trade
04/04 Los Angeles, CA - The Echo