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JFH Music Review

Adam Watts, Reason to Grow EP

Adam Watts
Reason to Grow EP

Artist Info: Discography
Genre(s): Indie
Album length: 4 tracks: 14 minutes, 40 seconds
Street Date: May 23, 2019


Reason to Grow, a surprise late-spring delivery from singer-songwriter Adam Watts, arrives just about a year after his critically acclaimed eighth studio album, When a Heart Wakes Up. (There are few albums which we at JFH have awarded two perfect 5-star ratings.) Reason to Grow is the first EP Watts has released since 2004's Meaningless Things and falls in line with the current artist trend of releasing a greater number of shorter projects. Regarding this project, Watts stated that he's "been all-the-way happy and all-the-way-sad and most of the emotions in-between," and this contrast is abundantly reflected here.

Watts opens the EP with the title track "A Reason to Grow," which bears a complex rhythm and melody where he borders on shouting out the raw lyrics: "Give me light, give me rain / a dying seed's in me / I need a reason to grow / somewhere to be where I'm needed / I need a reason to be better than what I am / I'm not enough." The second track, "Hold Me Tight, Leave Me Alone," perfectly fits into Watt's current tumultuous theme of pushing and pulling ("I put my lightning in a bottle and I sent it out to sea / hoping somebody would find it and come save me / the ship comes and it finds me hiding / they have to drag me kicking and screaming / hold me tight, tight, tight, leave me alone"). Melodically, the track effortlessly reflects his most recent work.

The melancholy "Black Snow" offers a lovely hint of diversity to Watts' signature sound and is one the best pieces here. The darkly somber and reflective lyrics serve to dramatically shift the tone of the EP, but also offer a glimmer of hope: "Found out where I fit this time / found dawn in the dying light / so low; new lows." The closing piece, "Hallelujah, Amen," is also a magnificently worthy highlight. Boasting thoughtful lyrics and powerful melodies, the entirety of this song plays to Watts' strengths. Its cutting questions continue to ring in fullness even after the disc finishes spinning: "What part of me has to die to live / thought I was already born again / can a prayer be a question / only answered with a sin / Hallelujah, Amen."

The four-track EP clocks in at just under 15 minutes, and if anything, feels something like an addendum to When a Heart Wakes Up and truthfully could have fit in just as well as an expanded/deluxe edition of that album. Regardless, this work of art is a wonderful treasure for thoughtful listeners, and if you enjoyed his 2018 album, there is little doubt that you'll also love Reason to Grow.

- Review date: 5/28/19, written by David Craft of

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JFH Staff's Second Opinion

Last year, Adam Watts released When a Heart Wakes Up, arguably one of 2018's best releases. Naturally, I was pleasantly surprised to hear that Watts was releasing new music in the form of Reason to Grow EP. Gathered here are four tight tracks that sound like extensions or B-sides from last year's full-length album. For the most part, however, the songs have their own unique flair to distinguish them from that previous record. The one exception, "Hallelujah, Amen," feels too similar musically to "The End of Alone" from When a Heart Wakes Up, though it's still a lyrically deep and complex song in its own right.

The strength of Watts' songwriting and musicianship is his ability to capture raw emotion. He passionately portrays the yearning to mature in the title track, the complex relationship one can have with another in "Hold Me Tight, Leave Me Alone," and the wrestling of faith in "Black Snow" and "Hallelujah, Amen." There are times where perhaps the musical emotion gets slightly out of hand (like the drum solo ending to "Black Snow"), but even then Watts makes it work. My biggest complaint is that there aren't more tracks. If you've been on the fence about giving Adam Watts a chance, Reason to Grow EP gives you plenty of reason to try now. - Review date: 6/12/19, John Underdown of


JFH Staff's Additional 2 Cents

    On his latest self-created project, Adam Watts takes a hard look at the brokenness and duality of human nature in the digestible short format of an EP. Packed with emotive vocals, toilsome lyrics, and haunting melodies, Reason To Grow is a beautiful and captivating listen. - 6/19/19 Christopher Smith



. Record Label: Broken City Artists
. Album length: 4 tracks: 14 minutes, 40 seconds
. Street Date: May 23, 2019
. Buy It: iTunes
. Buy It: Amazon Music (MP3)

  1. A Reason To Grow (2:48)
  2. Hold Me Tight, Leave Me Alone (3:58)
  3. Black Snow (4:23)
  4. Hallelujah, Amen (3:32)


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