Album Stream | Western Shout, ‘The Bird & The Cage’

New Jersey’s Philip Watts can be viewed as  journeyman in many indie bands over the years including Overnight, Summer Beast, Cobra Libre, Breach and Gliss. He’s played with current and former members of bands as varied as Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Brain Johnstown Massacre, Beck, Rye Coalition, Lauren Hill, Space Hog & Damien Rice. He grew up in Cleveland, the youngest of 8 kids, son of an inventor and Jazz promoter and has been many things in his life including private investigator assistant, laundromat bartender, roofer on an Amish crew, security in a women’s shelter, steel worker, furniture salesman, train loader, telemarketer, biofeedback therapist and many more turns besides. “When I was young I liked moving around a lot and I just jumped into a lot of different things, sometimes out of curiosity, mostly necessity. I don’t have to do that anymore and I’m thankful for that but I’m also grateful that the trip has given me a pretty different perspective than most. It’s definitely been a trip.”

These days, Watts is helming Western Shout and has dropped the debut album from the moniker today titled The Bird & The Cage. Throughout the album, each song flourishes in sound along with the warmth of the delivery courtesy of Watts.

Watts said about The Bird & the Cage, “This is a record that comes from a turning point moment in my life. I was finding myself reflecting a lot on my past, where I come from, the people I used to run with and the versions of who I used to be. And about the fear and self limitations that have buttoned me up in the past. As much as I’ve changed, and I would say mostly for the better, there are things that stay with you no matter how much you evolve or grow or “work” on yourself. A lot of this record is about those things, bad and good. In a way, the record itself, that I decided to come back to the music of my roots, to listen only to myself, is a reflection of this. Without getting too lost in ethers, if I believe in a meaning or purpose in life it’s to fully become who you are, to fully bloom, to push through the fear and bullshit and let go of things that hold you back. I might not all be beautiful, it might, to keep up the metaphor, come with lots of thorns and failed buds and it likely won’t be at all easy if you’re doing it right but I have to keep pushing, shedding the fears, failing and stumbling and getting back up.  

When I started earnestly writing for this record it mostly came very fast. It’s like it was waiting to be said and I just opened a door and let it out. I recognize that I’ve thought that this time in my life would pass and I would move on from music and into other creative pursuits but I realize now that isn’t going to happen anytime soon. Maybe ever. I just keep opening little doors and funny little things tumble out.”

Despite his natural inclinations to pull a band together to realize his songs before going into a studio, Philip decided to do as much of this record solo as possible. “I just decided that I didn’t want to bounce anything off anyone else. Good or bad, I want to follow what’s flowing through me and nothing else to muddy the signal. There really isn’t a plan though. It started on a shitty acoustic guitar, my old electric piano and I just found myself setting up mics one day and playing everything myself. Except drums, I programmed those initially and a pair of old bandmates, Nate Barnes (Mary Chapin Carpenter, Rodney Crowell, Hiss Golden Messenger) and Blair Sinta (Alanis Morissette, Damien Rice, Brandi Carlile, Pete Thorn) were kind enough to replay them.”