Ben Watt, 'Hendra'
Ben Watt has been making intimate, sophisticated pop music for three decades, most prominently with his wife Tracy Thorne in Everything But the Girl. Though he's primarily been a dance music DJ since EBTG ended in 2000, his first solo album since 1983 is all about subtle guitar elegance and detailed lyrical explorations. Watt collaborated with guitarist Bernard Butler of Suede and even got an unlikely hand from Pink Floyd's David Gilmour to create richly detailed songs that deal with muted revelation and shaky unburdenings. In "Young Man's Game" a 49-year-old comes to terms with feeling to old to go clubbing, and in "The Levels" a man converses with a wife who's no longer with him. The music can evoke anything from Stereolab to country to mellow Seventies rock and the lyrics can touch on subjects from gun control to Romantic poetry, always with a subtlety that matches the music's slanted beauty. By Jon Dolan