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Watertown Carps "Mermaids" Album Review - Review Parade - 24th September 2021

Updated: Sep 25, 2021

Released on 9th September via Rose Parade Recording Co., Mermaids is Watertown Carps’ solemn and serene debut album. It’s an intriguing listen: brooding yet embracing, adrift yet anchored, afloat on a gentle tide of country pop and indie folk.

Marrying the unlaboured lyricism of Yo Zushi and the multi-instrumentalism of Ross Palmer (a collaboration extending back to the mid-2000s neo-folk scene), this is an album steeped in narrative. There is quiet optimism, late night apprehension, unconditional love and inevitable loss, all considered from the uncertain shadow of a global pandemic, political upheaval and social unrest. However, as the fishing references suggest, this is a meditation not a deliberation – a patient wait to see what might tug on the line. While Zushi’s vocal style may not appeal to all, his half-spoken and occasionally choked drawl weaves a compelling melodic tapestry of stories and imagery that might otherwise be spoiled by a more pristine voice. It’s clear from the album’s opening that this is a storyteller, akin to Bob Dylan or Leonard Cohen, although more observational and far less caustic.

The production is pleasing and rich but never overstated. Centred around steady strumming and a satisfying pluck, the spacious arrangements paint passing scenery with gently shimmering guitars, the subtle glow of organs, well-placed harmonica and (where they do occur) solid beats. Capturing classic influences such as Waylon Jennings and Jimmy Webb in abundance, while showing contemporary hints of Elliott Smith and early Wilco, this is a complete sound. There are several stripped-down instalments (Another Last Chance, 8:32, No More Crying), gently jazz-infused and lullabied, while even the more upbeat moments (Wait and See, Time Steals Away) possess an unrushed patience invoking the uncluttered country pop vibes of Bonnie Prince Billie and Lucinda Williams.

From its unassuming introduction, through its numerous ebbs and flows, “Mermaids” is a quietly ambitious debut album that will reward the genuinely patient – not because it’s a difficult listen, but for precisely the opposite reason. It deserves your time.

Available to buy via Rose Parade Recording Co.


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