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Baker's Dozen

Beautiful & Sad: Ben Watt's Favourite Albums
Jude Rogers , January 29th, 2020 09:48

As he releases a new solo record, Ben Watt of Everything But The Girl guides Jude Rogers through his Baker's Dozen, from Frank Ocean to Paul Simon and Bobby Womack to why male music critics were afraid of Joni Mitchell


Bobby Womack – The Bravest Man in the Universe
This got quite mixed reviews when it came out [in 2012], but I think it's really affecting. The guy had colon cancer, and when this album is great – I don't love all of it, but I love a lot of it – it's like an old man's reckoning. It's full of apologies and remorse, but still the old Bobby Womack is in there. There's still some disdain, but he's also quite sad, as he knows he's at the end of his life. I love how he sings those lines in 'Please Forgive My Heart': "I'm a liar/I'm in a dream…" It's a performance miles away from the swagger of an album like The Poet, which was perhaps his greatest ever record, in 1980. I remember he was seen as the godfather of contemporary soul back then – he got an album of the year in the NME around that time too [for 1984's The Poet II].

But on this record, he's this disjointed elder, and he's also someone else. He's standing in this fragmented terrain of 21st century soul music, this great survivor in a sci-fi movie. What a way to approach the end of your life.