Album Review: Lewis Watson – midnight

It’s funny to think that Lewis Watson originally rose to recognition by recording covers on YouTube, and that image of him now seems so incompatible with his accomplished and profound songwriting. Having taken a break from music since 2015 to work on his new album, little has been heard from Watson aside from the occasional use of his music as backing to Made in Chelsea.

Worth the wait? I think so, as Watson has sailed, seemingly unfazed, through the choppy waters many artists talk about with penning a second album to match their debut. midnight carries all the ingredients that made in the morning so appealing, and comparing the albums side by side, it could be easy to claim that the two are too similar. Undeniably, little has changed musically (which is a good thing), but I think the material takes a strong step forward in terms of content.

It’s also a relief to see that midnight carries a good portion of happy songs, while a lot of the songs on the first album, including ‘Ghost’ and ‘Windows’ were a mood-killer, to put it mildly. This comes through strongly on ‘Little Light’, a song reflective of the general hopeful theme of the album. ‘Forever’ is the lead single from the album, and features Watson’s quickly-summarising wisdom, as he sings, it’s a lesson that we’re learning/ But it would mean nothing if we don’t/ Find our way back,’ leading to a staple big and heartfelt chorus.

It’s great to see ‘LA Song’, which appeared in demo form on the debut album, come back fully-fledged and still sounding great with fairly minimal production. My favourite track at the moment is ‘Hello Hello’, not a song about the British sit-com but a gentle flashback to some of Watson’s older songs. The lyrics ‘Spilling secrets, can we keep this to ourselves?’ are reminiscent of the material he wrote as a teenager, with power through its simplicity, reinforcing the grain which itself weaves through Watson’s back catalogue, the unspoken conviction that less is always more.

Other highlights include the lyrical strength of Watson’s songwriting, shown especially on songs like ‘Deep the Water’, and the appearance of the amazing Lucy Rose on ‘Slumber’, another addition to the record’s list of great, relaxed ballads. The album ends with the title track, ‘(midnight)’, which has been left to the end with a purpose. The song is slow and soft, with only a piano in the background, with lyrics which make you visually play out the song in your head, and a rising sense of power and urgency carried through to the end.

This is a great album, and each track carries through and adds something unique. I think I’ll have it on repeat for a long time.

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