Song: Patrick Watson – A Mermaid in Lisbon review

by Philip Moss

For many of us of a certain age, the CD single format was a huge part of our formative music experience. The weekly release day walk from college to Townsend Records was always filled with excitement – with early releases from acts like The Coral featuring b-sides that went far beyond the lead single to show different sides of their enigmatic prism. But as streaming services took a strangle hold, CD sales went into drastic decline, and the single format one of the biggest and earliest casualties.

On A Mermaid in Lisbon, Patrick Watson dives back into this world. Having discovered Teresa Salgueiro through Wim Wenders’ 1994 film, Lisbon Story, Watson felt that the Portuguese songwriter would be the perfect voice to bring a different palette of colours. At just 51 seconds long, Se tu soupesses acts as a gateway – with Salgueiro taking a lead before the pair’s voices meet like friends under a starlit sky on Praça do Comércio Terreiro. The title track, inspired by Watson’s walks through Portuguese capital, buzzes along – full of joy – with the Attacca Quartet at his back, as he’s ‘staring at the sun through someone else’s eyes.’ It’s a song full of love and the excitement of exploration. Before the final composition, Can’t Stop Staring At The Sun, feels like the ying to the title track’s yang; it’s a comedown – the sunset bringing closure to the title track’s ebullience.

Three is the magic number here for Patrick Watson on A Mermaid in Lisbon. A true return to the CD single style format – showing three very different, but equally immersive cuts, which all deserve our attention.

A Mermaid in Lisbon is out now on Watsonia Productions inc / Secret City Records.

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