Although Patrick Watson may have won the Polaris Music prize in 2007 with Close To Paradise, the Canadian’s latest experiment in sound could possibly win him a prize for the most eclectic album of all time if such a prize existed. From the opening strings of ‘Fireweed’, Watson takes you through a nocturnal journey of noise that measures like a rollercoaster ride back into a soundtrack for The Wizard of Oz, past a New Orleans bar at 4am on a Saturday night, picking Billy Holiday up on the way home.
If you can get past the different genres of sound, and the often ridiculous bashing of what literally sound like pots and pans being clunked in a kitchen sink against a bicycle wheel, there is an immense beauty, and heaps of crafted melody within these songs.
In a recent interview, Watson has quoted the new style of music on this album as ‘science fiction folk music’, inspired from watching black and white episodes of The Twilight Zone on his last tour bus, and also confessed to drawing inspiration from the creative cartoon music of Warner Bros composer Carl Stalling, most famous for his Looney Toons arrangements.
The result is a dreamy album that plays out like a cinematic score, with layers of gypsy, bluegrass, folk, falsetto, piano and everything else in between. When Watson sticks to the pure craft of melody, he comes into his own, most notably on the country sing-along anthem of ‘Big Bird In A Small Cage’, where he duets with fellow Montreal vocalist Katie Moore.
Wooden Arms is too disjointed to be this year’s cult classic- but there are moments of euphoric bliss that will make the hairs on your neck stand up if nothing else.