It’s been a long time in the making, but tomorrow finally marks the release of singer/songwriter Lewis Watson’s debut EP, the imaginatively titled “It’s Got Four Sad Songs On It BTW”. Stemming from little more than three years of uploading videos to his ever-expanding YouTube channel, this record is the culmination of hard grafting at gigs and writing new material. Since opening said account back in 2009, it has gone on to rack up nigh on 3,000,000 views – and Lewis himself an almost worryingly devoted fan base… all of which is pretty impressive for an entirely home-grown project, and the fact that he’s still attending college. I’ve been following this guy for the best part of a year, and the constant evolution in his sound and maturity in his voice is almost mind-blowing. YouTube residing musicians are always in danger of the falling victim to the curse of their own internet success, but this EP looks set to draw Lewis away from that, instead becoming a legitimate, record-shifting musician. I managed to wrangle a pre-release listen to the eagerly anticipated record, and the good news is that it doesn’t disappoint.
Straight from the reverb-inflected guitar which haunts the beginning of the opener “What About Today” to the descending melody underlying “Nothing“, it is a collection of four outstandingly written love songs, all tinged with their own unique types of melancholy. There’s something ever so Ian Grimble-esque about the production as well (shouts to tBeat behind the boards for the EP), especially his work on Benjamin Francis Leftwich’s debut album Last Smoke Before The Snowstorm. The aforementioned “What About Today” is an introductory track that sets the mood for the rest of the record: a delicate acoustic guitar part is back with equally raw harmonics that have an almost choral tendency. It’s a classic tug-at-the-heartstrings track that showcases Lewis’ exceptional aptitude for songwriting, as he ushers in the chorus of “you loved me last night, but what about today?”.
The EP then progresses on to “Windows“, which sees a slightly more optimistic dimension to Lewis’ songwriting, with the accompaniment and production invoking visions of a late-night beach at summer. Those hushed vocal tones are flexed once again, contrasting beautifully the stunning harmonies. But while that guitar melody encapsulates an entirely more positive atmosphere, there is heart-felt emptiness which is conveyed so emotionally through his words. There’s almost a reassurance in the lyrics here, but with that trepidation and unknowing that comes with a relationship. He means every word he sings, and that sense comes through in this song more than ever: “I sleep with a pillow, under lamplight/ Freezing cold, ’cause you always liked the windows opened wide/ Just so you know, I’ll be here when you get home.”
Following this, comes one of Lewis’ most popular original tracks, the fantasically-written “Bones“. I remember watching the original video for this track the night that he uploaded it, and just being entirely blown away by it. It’s refreshing to see that there hasn’t been a single whiff of overkill on the production side of things, allowing the original composition to take centre-stage. Countless listens do this song absolutely no harm, and that guitar melody is as prevalent and blissful as ever. Written about “the rush of meeting someone new”, the lyrics “We could jump in the ocean and sink like stones/ But that’s ok with me baby ’cause I’ll be next to your bones” fit the mood of the piece perfectly, developing on the kind of despondancy-infused songs that this EP is composed of.
Ending emphatically, the record finishes with the aptly-titled “Nothing“, probably my favourite track off the EP, and one which is going to down as a future classic for this guy. Straight from that heart-wrenchingly descending guitar line which opens the song, it’s an emotionally driven piece which allows for a delicate and fragile end to an incredible record. Lewis described it as “a slightly happier love song” to round off the release, with the line “as they take you away…” drowning in the soft guitar and piano which rounds the track – and the EP – off.
One of the releases of 2012 so far. Having been backed by the likes of Ed Sheeran, Krept & Konan, Scrufizzer and Nina Nesbitt all in the past 12 months, only God knows where he’s going to be this time next year. Hopefully this record will act as a platform for even greater things in the near future.
“It’s Got Four Sad Songs On It BTW”, but I love it with all my heart nonetheless.
“It’s Got Four Sad Songs On It BTW” is available to download from iTunes HERE.