Ben Watt Surveys the Storm Damage

Ben Watt, photographed at the Asylum Chapel in London for his upcoming album “Storm Damage”

Ben Watt released his first single in 1981, produced by Kevin Coyne, followed by a five-song collaboration with Robert Wyatt in ’82 and his first solo album, North Marine Drive, in ’83. He then put his solo career on hold for nearly two decades when he joined forces with his now-wife Tracey Thorn to form the exquisite pop duo Everything But the Girl.

Fourteen years after Watt and Thorn put EBTG to bed, Watt resumed releasing solo work in 2014 with the justly acclaimed Hendra, which featured Bernard Butler (Suede) and David Gilmour. This was followed in 2016 by the similarly praised Fever Dream, on which Butler reappeared alongside Marissa Nadler and Hiss Golden Messenger’s MC Taylor.

Watt’s sublime string of midlife masterpieces continues with Storm Damage, out January 31. Emotionally stirring and beautifully executed, the album’s ten songs (including six-minute centerpiece “Irene,” featuring Alan Sparhawk of Low on guitar and harmony vocal) constitute a personal journey for Watt. “My closest half-brother died unexpectedly in 2016, only four years after my half-sister,” he shares. “I got stuck for a year, angry inside and angry at the political world casually detonating around me. I felt half powerless, half driven. When the songs finally came, some were dark, yes, but there is always room for light. Always. I just tried to put that across.”

Photo by Antonio Olmos.