Although raised in Nashville, Erisy Watt has a voice and musical style that is a million miles away from much of what is churned out of Music City these days. Watt instead veers more toward the soulful, jazzy, folk sound of the likes of Norah Jones and, on ‘Paints in the Sky’, her debut album, she has created a thing of beauty, a veritable treat for the ears.
Now based in Portland, Oregon, Watt spends a big chunk of her year away from her home helping to lead environmental studies groups for university students in remote regions of Nepal, Thailand and Indonesia. It is these travels, alongside early musical influences such as Billie Holiday, Brazilian bossanova artists and 1960s folk singers that have played a large part in shaping her songwriting.
Listen to the opening bars of ‘Cypress’ and that influence is immediately apparent, both lyrically and musically. There is a lovely warmth and flow to the song that is replicated time and again on the album. The songs flow seamlessly one into the other and if it is problematical to highlight standout tracks then that is intrinsically linked to the fact that here is an album that retains a consistently high quality throughout. That said, ‘Treasure Maps’ catches the attention with its quicker pace, catchy chorus and prominent violin accompaniment and seems tailor-made for radio and the wider attention that Ms Watt warrants.
Erisy Watt is independently funded and managed so it is to her great credit that the album has such a professionally produced sound to it. The musical accompaniment to Watt’s guitar and banjo is top class and adds layers that complement, but never overshadow, her sublime vocals. Aside from long-time collaborator Jeremy Ferrara there are no musicians listed to compliment here but their presence is integral to the overall feel of this lovely album.
Set aside 40 minutes or so of your life, put your feet up and let the music and lyrics of Erisy Watts wash over you, calm you, enthral you. And, once you have done that, share with your friends for here is a voice that is far to good to keep to yourself.