Toby Watson's EP entitled The Barratts begins with the song “Angel. “ This song is gorgeous. Watson's voice is soft and soothing, and is accompanied by a beautiful serenading violin. He also has a backup chorus of some beautiful singers. It is folky and powerful. Definitely a heart warmer. I get an Edward Sharpe sentiment from his voice and this piece sounds holy and church like. "Shine your light down on me, let it shine" urges us to feel as though there is some religious underpinnings going on here. It feels like a gospel choir in parts and though it never points directly to God, the listener gets the idea that greater forces are at work here in helping to inspire Watson to create such a magical piece of art.
The next song “Home” is a bit more upbeat and the violin makes that subtle transition into being a fiddle. Funny how violin and fiddle are based only on how you play the instrument not the instrument itself. This song definitely feels more like a bluegrass/folk song. It is high energy. The song brings in the harmonica as well. I love how knee slapping and dance-y it is. I also love his crew of backup singers. Makes it feel like a party not inside a church, but outside on the streets in front. The music just has that old gospel sound that feels familiar and comforting.
The next song on the album "Is This Love" takes on a bit more of a bluesy approach to folk music. There is a slight offering of violin. The drums are simplistic and steady and drive each song unassumingly in the background. The violin remains at the front with the vocals. I really appreciate the clapping in this song. It is succinct and mastered to appear instrumental. Another heavy heartbreaker, “Is this love?" offers the type of lyrics that are just poetic enough to leave the listener to their own devices to dissect them and digest them however they choose to. “Shelter” brings back the church like glory of gospel/folk music. Watson's voice softens again and feels angelic. "Give me shelter, keep me warm” reminds me of an old prayer people would say, “Give me shelter, keep me warm from the storm.” This song in particular feels more godlike than most of them. It is beautiful though and it rains down golden glittery warm winds of swirling protection. This is one of those songs you put both hands in the air and you kind of just sway back and forth. Watson and his choir of angels bring a beautiful harmony into the soul here and it won't leave its listener feeling high and dry, but instead feeling quite connected and a part of the music.
The EP ends on the song "Sail" as the last song to sail away on. Starts off with an organic whistle that is sweet and harmonic. The layers of drums and guitar, laced with hints of violin create such a beautiful piece. The instrumentals are tight and in sync bringing crescendos of glorious sound to its listener. Watson's voice is enough to be stoked on, and his band is the icing on the cake with their skillful, magical offerings. There is even a small bell in this song that really amplifies the magic.
I really like this EP and would highly recommend it. If you are a Black Keys or Edward Sharpe lover, then I think you will in particular love it. It is holy and magical, for everyone. It is a non-denominational type of churchy that makes us all feel tied together in unity by the unknown forces that Watson is channeling in this EP. His voice is rustic and cowboy like - you feel it is like a tanned piece of leather well oiled and full of strength. His band too emanates strength and confidence in each of their layers that they weave together. I am a big fan of this folky type of music and find it favorable on most days. There doesn't need to be any sort of occasion, but of course firesides and get togethers with friends seem to be the perfect reason to pull out this EP.
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