With his third EP, Wild, youthful London songwriter Lewis Watson offers up four more tracks of his wistful yet optimistic indie-leaning folk-pop. While his earlier two EPs used their titles (It's Got Four Sad Songs on It BTW and Another Four Sad Songs) to remark on the general melancholia of Watson's songwriting moods, it was more cheeky hyperbole than anything. Wild finds the singer at his most produced and most hopefully jubilant. Leadoff track "Into the Wild" is a driving, upbeat composition laid out with pristine acoustic guitar arpeggios and neatly understated electronic rhythms, but Watson's booming voice is strangely masked in an overdriven effect as he delivers lyrics of devotion to a newly forming relationship. The juxtaposition of clean and dirty sounds sits well with the Bon Iver-esque song structure and occasional Fleet Foxes-styled backing harmony vocals. The sultry "It Could Be Better" melds the ghostly folkier influences with just a hint of soul, Watson's voice recalling just for a moment Adele's heartbroken skeletal arrangements on the song's chorus. The EP is rounded out by the meandering back-porch folk of "Little Darling" and an only slightly awkward cover of SBTRKT's cold R&B-informed track "Hold On." While a little bit disjointed stylistically, Wild definitely shows Watson in a state of rapid evolution and hints at potential greatness waiting in a more considered debut LP. If anything, Watson's display of talent on Wild makes the increasingly shorter road from warbly YouTube videos to major-label productions make a little more sense.
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AllMusic Review by Fred Thomas