Portland Willamette Week [March 26th, 2003 PREVIEW - Chance Meetings
\"Simon Widdowson conquered Portland music against the odds...and his better judgment.\"
\"Just about any way you slice it, Simon Widdowson shouldn\'t be here. Start with the fact that he grew up in Leeds, England. Then, his six years of living in the Twin Cities, followed by another six or so outside Santa Fe--the right side of the Greenwich Meridian, maybe, but both thousands of miles from our fair city.
Finally, factor in the immediate, visceral dislike he took to Portland.
\"The first time I was in Portland it was, like, five days,\" says Widdowson. \"I hated the place. A while later, I went back to England, and I was trying to figure out what I should do. And I kept thinking to myself, \'My God, I think I\'m supposed to go back to Portland. Why? I can\'t stand the place!\'\"
And yet here he is. After about three years in town, Widdowson runs the recording studio Are You Listening, the sound lab responsible for some of the shiniest gems in Portland\'s recent pop past: He\'s recorded Papillon, Little Sue and the Decemberists, among others. The studio is the heart of a quasi-collective of graphic designers, artists and other creative types who share a converted industrial space down by the tracks in inner Southeast\'s warehouse zone.
\"I had this vision of this urban situation, a recording studio with all these bands and artists and creative people all working in the same space,\" he says. \"I was half-delusional, I think. For the first six months, all I did was paint and hammer up walls.\"
Construction complete, Widdowson found time to return to the songwriting career he once pursued with hard-touring pop bands the Rainjackets and Spearfish. The result is Sweeper, a brooding, romance-damaged pop album that can summon either Nine Inch Nails or Leonard Cohen as needed. On disc, Widdowson is a bruised yet refined presence, a guy who\'s been around but still has the energy to put his words across with muscle.
With the album about to drop, a possible return to the road on his mind and his studio going strong, it would seem capricious fate did Simon Widdowson a favor by landing him in Portland--whatever the odds may have been\".
Zach Dundas, Portland Willamette Week
\"Smart affecting pop\"