A Live Experience with Alex Watts @ The Grace Darling, Melbourne, 25th May 2016

jamesAlex Watts is an Australian (Melbourne) Singer/Songwriter who pens music built upon storytelling lyrics of the tribulations of life and fictional (we think) tales.  His influences are multi-layered, one moment Rock, the next Rhythm and Blues, the next Soul.  With so much to offer, is there just too much emphasis placed on song structure and complexity rather then playing from the heart?  

It felt like winter finally hit in Melbourne town, with the skies pitch-black, the roads equally so and the few brave hearts that battled the annoyingly drizzled rain drops to get a spoonful of local music upstairs at The Grace Darling. This is a venue that felt strangely like a locals living room, on the cultured side of the city.  Tonight, Alex Watt completed his fourth night of his residency in support of his recently delivered stand-out single ‘Hopeful’.

The Promotions and Management team at “This Much Talent’ reached out to TWL with an invitation to listen to Alex Watts his latest single ‘Hopeful’. A spaghetti western blended pop song with hints of 50’s rock, reverb rhythm guitar, shuffling drums and organ keys. It’s a familiar sound with defining moments of Calexico, Wilco and Ryan Adams.

Crammed on to the very small stage, Watts offered a full band including keys and saxophone, both instruments offered a much needed fullness and depth to each of the songs, the results were tightly delivered. The problem here was the lack of band connection both with the audience and with each other. Making the set feel like it was entirely Alex Watts with just a few session musicians who would rather be somewhere else.  This was a real shame, as the band were blessed with talent but completely disengaged and of course, what does this do to an audience?

Alex Watts is a commitment songwriter, he played the set with guts and conviction sharing tales while the music wrapped itself around the lyrics, the formula for most accomplished songwriters, where the music is just the filler.  Tonight this certainly felt the case, many of the songs too often changed, rhythm and context. Often it was just too hard to settle in to any safe place, so it was a welcome relief when we heard the leading single ‘Hopeful, a clear stand out track.

The night felt uncomfortable, maybe it was the venue, maybe just the weather, but something didn’t feel right and for that we left the night desperate to get to our warm beds. TWL will be keeping its eyes and ears out for his upcoming debut album and with more touring to follow no doubt, we hope he finds the right venue and the right band chemistry to match his great talent.