For his second solo album since time was called on Sheffield’s Slow Club, Charles Watson seems in a bucolic mood. Gone are the woozy layers of 2018’s Now That I’m A River, replaced by a bright straight-forwardness. Yes is a perfect spring/summer record, full of hum-along melodies, choruses and honest reflections.
Watson’s recent experience as a new father is evident, most obviously over the hushed ’I Was Sent Here To Love You’, which you can imagine him singing over his young sleeping daughter. Indeed, an optimistic realism runs throughout. “I knew right away, I was no help at all,” he admits on the wistful ode to a loved one’s struggles ‘Afghan Hound’, flecked with spidery guitars and tinkling piano. Watson offers a kind of blue-eyed soul that recalls both the echo-ey Laurel Canyon of the 70s and contemporaries like Matthew E. White, who he’s just toured with.
There’s also an underlying sense of humour in self-acceptance. Final track ‘People Run Toward People’ sees Watson name-checking “Stockholm, Vegas and Whitley Bay”, reminiscent of BC Camplight, an artist on a similar musical radar.
It may appear a fairly slight album on first listen but possibly that’s the point. Watson isn’t trying to create a scene or muscle to the top of festival bills. He’s laying himself out in well-crafted songs which say Yes to life, limitations and laughter, and set your foot gently tapping and your heart smiling along the way: “I love the journey, let me know when I’ve arrived,” he intones on ‘Reared In The West’. Catch Watson on the road in September and say Yes too.