Entangled in Undergrowth. Patrick Watson, Adventures In Your Own Backyard.

The fertility of Montreal soils and surrounds for the musically creative mind has been richly documented and entangled in the undergrowth like pheasant cowering from the clamour of maniacal furore; somersaulting in the undertow of the city's whirlpool whirr like an otter in a Hotpoint is Patrick Watson and that thistly little voice of his. Having slipped into a more mainstream consciousness on the back of his overtly organic masterpiece of 2006 Close to Paradise, as others may have ebbed away over the passing of time Watson remains. Not so much like limescale nor barnacle but more as uncompromising artist of utmost integrity who ought to be afforded undivided attention as if taken all too lightly the sweeping melodrama he again buffets on latest, Adventures In Your Own Backyard, may just blow you up and away as though the pantomime clown carting inside-out umbrella into impenetrable tempest.

If twinkly yet doleful opening number Lighthouse may initially signal a return to territories frequently chartered it soon crashes against an influence that becomes, within the context of this particular record, all-pervasive. Dusting down the '60s LPs and lustrous trumpets, Ennio Morricone's soundtracking of Sergio Leone's seminal Trilogia del dollaro provides an immutable point of contact that, like l'uomo senza nome, is never far from fore. Employed predominantly as emotive enhancer of climactic denouement (an arguably almost cinematic technique) as on the insouciant bustle of Into Giants or on the dozy, expansive sprawl of Noisy Sunday or the stilted, skeletal limp of the title track it's an oddly obvious manipulation of inspiration and a case of a relative lack of reconfiguration belittling its overall impact. Similarly Morning Sheets is so unmistakably indebted to Sufjan Stevens' Jacksonville in mood, swing and string-led sway that it feels drained of power and emotionally pallid whilst soundtrack-y instrumental The Things You Do, if experimental – or perhaps adventurous – in approach, purely mutes his greatest asset.

For Watson is at his peak – and a vertiginous one it is too – when indulging his vocal chords and enlightening them with plucked violins or sombre washes of piano that roll like coiling tongue: the gusty Blackwind, for instance, comes across as a maelstrom of invigorating frenetics. However it's The Quiet Crowd, perhaps Watson's most intensely affecting recording since The Great Escape, that demonstrates both deftness of touch and understated pomp. Thus a little lamentably, the overriding feeling is that Adventures In Your Own Backyard may well have felt like an exorbitantly more resolute collection had Watson not strayed quite so far from the patch upon which he may most expressively "pee".