Comprised of a bluster of skill and a youthful-yet-sophisticated ambience, Andrew Watt, a New York City songwriter, vocalist, and guitarist, debuts with his six-song offering titled The Mulberry Tree E.P.
The album starts off solid with the inaugural “Me and the Road.” Properly placed “ahs” and “ohs” wizardly float over basic, ‘60’s influenced guitar-driven rhythms and Motown-tinged drums and claps. It doesn’t take long for one to notice Watt’s exceptional vocal competence as he displays (throughout the duration of this release) magnificent tonality, control, and a distinct infectious uniqueness that’s both soulful and lighthearted. “Traveler” – the first single released – oxymoronically is a poppy-but-heart-wrenching tale of a particular lady-of-interest eluding every chance at a love-based, monogamous relationship. This carefully composed track is extremely catchy and may prove to be one of the greatest moments of the project. “When Everything Goes Grey” is a highlight that begins at a semi fast-paced tempo; however, this tempo race soon ends with an almost overwhelming aura of strict melancholy that soon follows mid-song. And sonically everything does, in fact, seem to go grey, with Watt delving into a territory that’s Radiohead-esque. The light background vocals and somber lyrics intertwine like raindrops blending in a clear cup of fresh spring water, uncompromised by even the most powerful of filters.
Pop-rock often treads a thin line of brilliance and redundant normalities that can become somewhat cheesy. Unfortunately, the pop-rock qualities of “Sinkin’ In” push it into the latter, as its composition and vocals are terribly reminiscent to that of a disaster relief benefit song. The track “Chameleon” features a massive guitar solo and powerful vocals from the artist, but these are the only noticeable “bright” spots to acclaim about the song at hand, as some listeners may find it a difficult task sticking with the record past the point of Watt’s initial dire warning, “You better watch your step!”
However, these lower generic points soon become distant memories. The EP’s closer “Melody” shows the listener just how great of a songwriter that the artist can be. The wailings of a steel guitar, and the singer’s breathy and full-of-character backing vocals flood the tune’s background while he delivers his most potent songwriting experienced on the release.
Notable talent and potential both evident, Andrew Watt is a silhouette of an artist with a world of artistic promise in his hands. Songs not yet conceived and works still unrealized; he is an intrinsic breath of fresh air for a future oftentimes uncertain. A decent outing for a young artist in his first studio project, The Mulberry Tree E.P. (which is available for free through his web page) manages to hit just a little bit more than it misses.
– Julius Thompson