With everyone going tirelessly on about “living my best life,” perhaps all anyone would have to do is pick up a copy of Ben Watt‘s 1996 memoir and New York Times Book of the Year Patient, which documents his surviving the rare auto-immune disease Churg-Strauss Syndrome…and then work their way backwards and forwards through the rest of his life for inspiration.
The prolific music legend released his first solo album at just 21 years of age, then went on to rack up nine gold and platinum records with Everything But The Girl, the duo of he and wife Tracey Thorn, between 1984 and 2000. He followed with a career as a wildly popular global DJ and London club owner, and head of his own label Buzzin’ Fly.
But since his critically acclaimed 2014 solo album Hendra, he’s settled into the role of elegantly soul-baring song craftsman, which has decisively opened up his more contemplative side. His fourth solo long player, the tellingly titled Storm Damage, is due out in early 2020. But as a preview of what’s to come, BlackBook premieres here the video for affective new track “Balanced on a Wire.”
With its distinctly Lennon-esque choruses, gliding piano and Watt’s poignant lyrics about overcoming self-doubt and taking chances that lead into unknown territory – “Do you risk it all right here / You have a fear of being discarded / But the unguarded are the ones they say find love” – it is one of the most visceral pieces of music he’s ever recorded.
“My kids were teenagers leaving home for the first time when I wrote this song,” he reveals. “I was moved by their mixture of anxiety and determination. It reminded me of being nineteen myself, standing on the edge of something new, how you cope, how you need to open up when the other half of you is screaming no. It also chimed with how I feel even now, in my fifties, still trying to create. I tried to capture that tension in the cold opening and the hybrid production – half insistent electronics, half piano trio.”
Needless to say, he was boundlessly successful in that endeavor.
(N.B. Ben Watt will tour the UK, Europe, North America and Japan from February through April of 2020, click here for specific dates.)