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 Jesusfreakhideout.com
Record Label: Broken City Artists
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