Patrick Watson called his new record Adventures in Your Own Backyard because he recorded it almost entirely inside his apartment in Montreal. Nothing about it is lo-fi, however — it’s a beautiful recording of some of the most beautiful music yet from this excellent Canadian singer-songwriter, who makes delicate pop, rock and folk music with the sort of sophistication and subtle touches heard more often in chamber music or old pop standards. He’s in the same musical realm as Andrew Bird, Rufus Wainwright and the late Jeff Buckley.
And on Friday, Watson and his nimble band brought their musical adventures to Chicago’s Lincoln Hall, playing outstanding new songs such as “Lighthouse” and “Words in the Fire” along with fan favorites such as “Beijing” and “The Great Escape” from previous Watson albums. Watson spent most of the show sitting at the piano, although sitting hardly seems like the right word to describe what he was doing. While he doesn’t dance on his instrument as Jerry Lee Lewis does, Watson did make the piano seem like a living partner in the act of music-making as he coaxed lively but precise runs of notes out of it. The audience clearly included a good number of devoted Watson fans, who sang the backup harmonies impressively and shouted out requests. At one point, Watson apologized for not being able to show a movie he usually screens during one of his songs. “You can imagine the move that’s supposed to happen now,” he remarked. “It’s an imagination game tonight.” And indeed, his music did inspire all sorts of pictures in the mind.