Patrick Watson’s most recent and fifth album, Love Songs For Robots, came out in 2015. A personal favourite of that year, Canadians evidently agreed too, putting the album on a list of Polaris nominees. Like any other of his previous work, it was an album best listened to when you wanted to drift. Watson’s default falsetto singing voice pulls one out of one’s self and the use of piano as a melody driver can make it feel like you’re floating in the sky. Meanwhile, soft whispery vocals, sparse synths, and oceanic slide guitar notes feed you cloud cake in that castle. Lyrically, Watson himself seems to be on the same page of creation. How else does a line like “There’s a yellow glass dragon chasing you around” come about? Occasional moments of frenzy like on ‘Bollywood’ and ‘Frenzy’, with up-tempo guitars and clashing percussion really make you pay attention rather than nod off. It’s not that kind of drifting album.
It’s probably written somewhere, though most haven’t seen it in writing which thus lends it an air of sagacity and wisdom. What I’m talking about is a rule of music writing, stating that one shalt not write anything about the venue. It’s a fairly sensible rule, given that most of the time most bands don’t have full say in where they want to play. They certainly don’t get to choose what the venue will sound like.
However, for this weekend’s Le Festival Santa Teresa, we will be covering the band at Église Sainte-Thérèse-d’Avila. I can’t help but see these appearances as calculated musical decisions. In the past year, Patrick Watson has staged surprise shows at Le Divan Orange and Matahari Loft; both of them small venues (even if the band can very well sell out multiple big venue shows), thus treating audiences to an extra layer of intimacy to the band’s warm music. Nor are they a stranger to domed, high-reverb aural environments, having played at Église Saint-Jean-Baptiste in 2013 with a 60-piece ensemble. What’s on offer then, is more than mere experimentation, with the band going for a high reward live show, the risks having already been taken. Expect a warm, full, sonorous sound and contemplative approach to the already zen-like and feathery qualities of a Patrick Watson show.
Patrick Watson’s first show for Le Festival Santa Teresa is sold out but tickets for the second show are still available. The band’s set will be preceded by acoustic sets from Louis-Jean Cormier (whose voice a lot would recognise as the lead singer from Karkwa) and Safia Nolin, the winner of the 2016 ADISQ Discovery of the Year prize. For more music, be sure to check out Montreal darlings We Are Wolves (April 27), psych outfit SUUNS (April 28) and high energy rock Dilly Dally (April 29) from Toronto – all tickets and details available here. CISM will also be hosting free shows showcasing Quebec artists of the moment at La Brasserie le Saint-Graal. Check out the full programme here.