If their music wasn’t so good, I’d almost be a bit annoyed by The Black Watch. John Andrew Fredrick barely gives lovers of his fine, evocative, atmospheric and highly tuneful music enough time to absorb his latest offering before he’s back with another one of an equally indispensable nature.
So here we are mere months (weeks?) after I reviewed Led Zeppelin Five. But hey, I hear you saying, that was a reissue. Okay; we’ll give him a pass there. But I reviewed two other albums from The Black Watch in 2020 alone, and it was only the year before last that his 31 Years of Obscurity compilation made my Best-of list. And it was my second review of Fredrick’s releases that year.
One song in, it’s clear that Here & There possesses all of the hallmarks that make the Black Watch a must-hear. As different as “Now & Then” and the following cut (“The Real You”) are, they share the qualities that set the group apart from others treading nominally similar musical ground.
If you have fond memories of a time when The Smiths, The Church, The La’s and My Bloody Valentine were at their peaks, but you prefer to stay grounded in (or at least make periodic visits to) the present day, then Here & There is a recommended soundtrack for your life. Hooks to last a lifetime; wonderfully textured, nuanced and inventive arrangements; and energetic (yet not over-the-top) musicianship are just some of the virtues that make The Black Watch a true gem. And all those characteristics are on brilliant display within the ten tracks of Here & There.