BY MICHAEL TOLAND
For the last ten years or so, Ben Watt has been best known as a DJ and label boss; for the two decades prior, he was co-leader of the criminally underrated pop duo Everything But the Girl. For Hendra, only his second solo album in the past thirty years, Watt revisits the intelligent soft pop of his EBTG years, adorning his tunes with warm keyboards, tasteful guitar and measured, tuneful singing.
“Forget” and “Nathaniel” rock politely, with some teeth to the six-string licks driving the latter, but they’re exceptions. Most of the record stays in a midtempo, almost meditative mood, from the brooding “The Gun” to the dusty “The Levels” (with guest David Gilmour), the contemplative “Young Man’s Game” to the lush “Golden Ratio.” The lack of rhythm variety threatens to ship the record off to the Isle of Tedium, but Watt’s effortless melodies keep the record on course.
Modestly presented but appropriately self-confident in its dedication to craft, Hendra is a low-key but sturdy delight.
DOWNLOAD: “Golden Ratio,” “Forget,” “Nathaniel”