I am a big fan of NPR’s All Songs Considered, and one of my greatest pleasures is their breathless, jubilant coverage of SXSW. This year, their late-night dispatches and pre-and post- festival coverage were chock-full of someone I’d never listened to before: Patrick Watson. (And I don’t think I have ever been more musically indebted to Bob Boilen, Robin Hilton, and others on the show: a thousand thanks, gentlemen!)
“Into Giants” by Patrick Watson, is transformative. (If I am reluctant to say “life-changing,” I can at least confidently call it “season-changing”). It’s a sprawling, lush number with the best combinations of ear-pleasing snaps, claps, jangling, horns, “oohs”, and harmonies- but still while being far from formulaic or familiar. It deserves to be listened to in the most beautiful location on the most beautiful day you can rustle up.
I listened to this song probably a dozen or more times while I was wondering how and what to write, and each time, I was amazed to find that I had forgotten little gem-like moments: certain turns of phrase, sections of trembling, breathy vocal crescendo, unexpected rhythmic changes. I kept thinking of the word ‘unfolding,’ as if the song was a complex, crisp origami structure that, upon being unfolded by a pair of hands, blossomed into new forms and assumed different features.
Don’t be fooled by the lull around the three-minute mark. From that point onward, the song blooms into a climax that had Robin Hilton, in his own words, “literally sobbing at the end of this song… I thought I might have to excuse myself.”
When they played the track on the latest episode of All Songs, Bob Boilen said “I see you’re getting chills.” Too right.
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