Patrick Watson Close To Paradise

Patrick Watson Close To Paradise
Montreal whiz-kid Patrick Watson matches his grand ambition with visionary players to create a mesmerising orchestral pop record. The talented pianist writes songs as if they were short trips to the cinema and they each possess a transcendent aura. Watson’s voice is the first wonder here — a soaring, dynamic instrument that he wields like he’s been singing for a hundred years. On both the title track and "The Storm,” he closely resembles M. Ward and similarly attempts to create indie rock from the old world, as if such a thing truly existed. On "Daydreamer” he emotes like Antony, while a trippy rock pastiche swirls around him. A carnival-esque musical backdrop punctuates "Slip Into Your Skin,” as Watson employs Ron Sexsmith-style crooning. When the record hits its stride, the contributions of Watson’s multi-instrumentalist band-mates — Robbie Kuster, Mishka Stein, and Simon Angell — really come to the fore. "Weight of the World” features the soundtrack to a mad scientist scene in some cartoonish movie that Tim Burton might helm, and Watson’s creations begin to get a bit dizzying. "Luscious Life” is a feel-good radio anthem in waiting, with Watson’s soulful falsetto cooing airy proclamations and emoting like Hawksley Workman. With its steadily building orchestra of instrumentation and chorus of voices, "Drifters” begs to be given a chance to fill up an arena, while "The Great Escape” achieves an understated grace even though it hints at the bombastic balladry of Rufus Wainwright. Close to Paradise is a theatrical coming out party for Patrick Watson and it never fails to excite some new emotion within the listener; it’s just plain over the top. (Secret City)