SELF is a puzzle.
It is a book with pages ripped out and tossed into the air, left for the listener to reassemble.
It is a vibrant, revealing, intense amalgam of dark, interwoven revelations and angry pop culture references, dropped into chaos, and lost in Boston.
It is an album to get you psyched before a swim meet. It is an album to debate contentiously with three friends in a car in the middle of the woods in the middle of the night. It is an album that will cause you to reconsider the value of albums as a whole work of art.
Jon Watts has grown in leaps and bounds since his last project, showing off his production and guitar work in songs like FLAS, in which his three acoustic guitars weave their way around a sneaking solid bassline, leaving just the right amount of room for the voice in his head to dance.
From the epic bridge between FLAS and LOST IN BOSTON in which Jon declares “There’s something in the middle of the sun for y’all” (a hint for the listener that he later develops upon at the album’s sweeping self-referential conclusion) to creative challenges like the parallel stereo verse in ONE FLEW WEST - a song constructed solely utilizing Radiohead samples - Jon indeed shows great development as a producer, a guitarist and a poet.
“Give me something to work with, I need to know its worth it. Beginning at birth, the whole world isn’t perfect,” Jon bellows over a 6/8 tabla beat in LOST IN BOSTON, simultaneously revealing the deepest nature of the album and telling the unrelated story of a homeless man who he passed briefly on the streets of Boston. “Born into a culture whose intentions are quite off, I’m hoping to mention to listeners: I write often. A Molotov coffin who’s lost in Boston holds a candle to the cost of one fallen offspring.”
Jon Watts’ syllables sympathetically sillouette spontaneous struggles to stay social and solicit his self, sending the listener spread-eagled, sprawling spiritually in the spirit of Slug and Saul Williams simultaneously.
You get the feeling that Jon is literally looking himself in the mirror as he lets drop power and self-revealing lines like “Sometimes I just cry and remember I’m alive/think of those I’ve loved and who’ve loved me/but above those I’ve loved is my self/I remember that you’ve got to love yourself to be something.”
With references to Atmosphere, Hansel and Gretel, The Great Mouse Detective, Radiohead, Dr. Suess, Saul Williams and 16th century English poet John Donne, Jon follows in the longstanding poetic tradition of giving his audience a stimulating piece of art that only becomes more meaningful with research and repeated listens. Listeners are still mining the material 5 years later, discovering new references and meanings in the project.
(This is partially due to the fact that Jon did not tour for or promote the album whatsoever, as he recorded it in his second year at Guilford College)
Above all, SELF is an exploration of the concept and role of the individual in an increasingly isolated and individualistic culture. How does one find the self-support needed at the same time as maintaining responsibility to others? What language should be used for discussing the love of Self without the risk of becoming self-centered? How does ego relate with the need for forgiveness and healing?
Unravel the story. Put the book back together. Assemble the puzzle.
Then write your own poems and send them to Jon Watts.
released April 5, 2004
All songs written, recorded and produced by Jon Watts.
all rights reserved