Today, Wednesday, April 28, Ben Watt surprise-releases 'Storm Shelter', a 6-track companion piece to his acclaimed 2020 studio album 'Storm Damage'.
The mini-album, recorded during rehearsals for the Storm Damage Tour in January 2020, is a stripped-back piano-and-vocals set that was due for release during Watt’s world tour last year before it was held up by pandemic-related postponements and the ultimate cancellation of all his shows.
"In an ideal world, the recordings would have come out last year mid-tour," says Watt, "but instead, they close a chapter on a year of lockdown. For a while, I thought about abandoning them, but listening again, I thought their unadorned spirit seemed to speak to something of the strength in adversity we have all looked for recently."
With a year of shows ahead of him, Watt was forced to pull the plug on his Storm Damage Tour the night before his London date at Queen Elizabeth Hall on March 14 2020. Dates in Europe, North America, Japan and Australia soon followed suit as COVID-19 caused widespread disruption.
'Storm Shelter' contains two covers and four Watt compositions. The covers, Ten City’s house classic 'That’s The Way Love Is' (a UK Top Ten hit in 1989) and Sharon Van Etten’s recent synth torch song 'Comeback Kid', are both significant reinterpretations of the originals and premiered last year on US music blog Aquarium Drunkard’s Lagniappe Sessions.
Award-winning London film-maker Rahim Moledina who wrote and directed videos for 'Hendra' and 'Sunlight Follows the Night', has made a new film to accompany 'That’s The Way Love Is' - Watch BELOW:
The remaining recordings include new versions of three songs - 'Balanced on a Wire', 'Summer Ghosts' and 'Sunlight Follows the Night' - from 'Storm Damage', and one - 'Winter’s Eve' - from Watt’s 2016 album, 'Fever Dream'.
All the songs were recorded in one day at RAK Studios in London and are engineered and mixed by Bruno Ellingham.
Watt is donating an advance on royalty proceeds to UK homeless charity Shelter. "I have spent much of this year publicly campaigning to save my local reservoir in north London from decades of neglect," he says. "Aside from the ecological crisis, there is a human crisis of displaced residents from waterside redevelopment and shoreline rough-sleeping. I wanted to help shine a light on this too."
'Storm Shelter' is released digitally on Unmade Road under exclusive license to Virgin Music Label & Artist Services on April 28. Limited edition vinyl and CD versions are planned for later in the year.