Charles Watson (Credit: Laura McCluskey)
"I would say the biggest triumph was making the record in the way I set out to make it..."

Charles Watson has just ordered a copy of David Lee Roth’s autobiography, Crazy From The Heart.

Taking his first steps as a solo artist, he’s sure that all the tips he will ever need are in there. “I’ve found becoming the main singer a pretty daunting task,” Charles explains, “It’s not something that I’ve ever really seen myself as. I’m working on it though.”

With the release of his debut album, Now That I’m A River just around the corner (May 18th), Charles has taken a dip into the unknown, and the temperature is just right. The record is a silky listen of emotive tales delivered with sultry soul and beats that touch the skin like cool air on a hot day.

Previously one half of much loved Sheffield based duo, Slow Club; The Sheaf Inn, is the pub of choice to drink cheap beer, chat about reverb and get the best view of the city, and garage rock super group, The Surfing Magazines, Charles has used his solo platform as a place of experimentation, and it ranges from intricate synth-work to cinematic soundscapes.“I would say the biggest triumph was making the record in the way I set out to make it. So many times I’ve intended to do things in a certain way but time, budget and schedules often mean a compromise is struck.”

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I’ve found becoming the main singer a pretty daunting task...

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Instead, the record came to life in the way that it was first imagined. Much unlike the haircuts he has given to himself in the past, and one incident in 2014 where he misjudged moving a wardrobe. The majority of it was recorded with the whole band, but the last song was ‘Wildflower.’ Sitting snug in the middle, it is a dramatic slow-burning anthem, written almost as an open letter to a former flame. Keys flicker, and a contrasting cool choral backing adds intensity. “David Glover and myself have chatted about making a record like this for ages so it was a really nice bookend the project with that song with just the two of us. He played drums and I was on the piano. Cool to end it how it began.”

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Enthusing how fantastic it felt to simply play acoustic for the first time since sixth form college, Charles explains how musically, this project is a big step forward. “For this record I really tried to change the way I work. I knew it was going to feel pretty strange doing this for the first time so I wanted to write about different things in different places.”

First tease ‘No Fanfare’ dives and peaks across its five minute span in folksy tranquillity, whereas ‘Everything Goes Right’ is a lo-fi jam. They’re soul-seeking songs with the perfect measure of brutal honesty and poetic lines. “I worked on the words separately to the music on this record.” Charles explains, “I found a spot in the Wellcome Collection library where I sat for a couple of mornings a week.”

The words are intimate and personal. “I worked until either the song was done or I got hungry. Maybe that’s why the words are darker than us usual. Food is a powerful force.”

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I found a spot in the Wellcome Collection library where I sat for a couple of mornings a week...

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Mixing almost hypnotic words with warm textures, the album blurb could perhaps read “ill-equipped male overreaches for his destiny.” Charles decides, “That’ll hook ‘em in.”

Referencing Young Father’s Glastonbury set as “hands down the most badass, intriguing and strangest thing [he’s] seen in ages,” Charles’ 12 year run in the British music industry helps him to conclude that overall British music is the same as ever. “Sometimes it’s great and exciting. Sometimes it’s boring and dull. I’m unsure to what extent Britain can be praised or blamed for it.”

'Now That I’m A River' whole-heartedly deserves a listen with full attention. Wherever you think the album is going, the next song will be able to point in a decidedly different direction and change the perspective.

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'Now That I'm A River' will be released on May 18th.

Words: Tanyel Gumushan

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