Self-produced, and recorded with ex-Suede guitarist Bernard Butler, Fever Dreams is the third solo album by former Everything But The Girl member Ben Watt. Though he left a whopping gap of thirty-one years between his first two albums, Fever Dream comes just two years after 2014s Hendra. But where his previous album was riddled with themes of woe and personal grievances, here on his new record Watt has engulfed his lyricism in themes of love, and its ever-changing nature.
The beginning of the album is of a more troubled nature than its end. Gradually depicts the turmoil in growing apart from one another, with lyrics like ‘Some days I lose touch with you/ Strangers in all we do’ throwing a painful shadow over Butler’s sludgy guitar. The sparsely instrumented poetic Between Two Fires follows a similar theme, but instead focuses on the end, rather than the road towards it. Lyrically, this album is poetic for the most part, with most songs playing out as though extracts from a private journal so personal that you almost feel guilty for witnessing it.
Earthy and earnest, Women’s Company is led by the soothing sound of softly played African drums, whereas songs like Fever Dream and Never Goes Away are centered around the mournful twang of old folk. As with most records though, there are a few awry moments; piano-led track Winter’s Eve delivers a somber number with a slow build up and layered chorus.
But such mishaps are easy to excuse when contrasted with such an otherwise well crafted, interpersonal album. And paired with his skillfully sourced collaborations, Fever Dream is truly captivating. Like many albums, it tells the story of the many different dimensions of love. But in a way that only few can, Watt has allowed enough ambiguity for each listener to apply their own subjective meaning, and that is a wonderful thing.