‘Long Road Home’
(Out Now on Nusic Sounds)
IF EVER A TITLE SUMS UP THE CHARLIE SIMPSON STORY, this one is particularly apt. This is an artist – yes, artist – who has spent the past 13 years of a varied career making decisions that take cajones. Leaving boyband Busted while they were still top of the hit parade, commercially successful but musically redundant, to forming alt/emo Fightstar, through to his current solo career on the acoustic side. Turning down a fast buck by declining the offer of the McBusted ‘supergroup’ also needs recognition. If he is searching for some sort of credibility, he’s going the right way about it.
With his second solo album, he surely has found his musical home. There’s less of the downbeat vibe of his solo debut ‘Young Pilgrim’ here, but more of a mature, country feel, with a definite nod to his earlier pop experience with the slick production and radio friendly hooks. The album showcases not just Charlie’s raw but somewhat tender vocal style, but also showing that he is an inventive, maturing songwriter. ‘Comets’ is fun and upbeat, the higher tempo coming across a shade Mumfords-esqe, with all the ‘Hey!’s, kick-drums and claps. Single ‘Winter Hymns’ has a mellow vibe with a rasping vocal, while the folksy feel of ‘Emily’ is a real highlight. The most intimate of all the tracks, it’s a delicate lovers tale with the occasional soft falsetto “Close your eyes Emily, and I’ll be with you”.
Long Road…is a deeply personal collection with few bumps along the way. Whether he’ll ever lose the ex-Busted tag still remains to be seen, but there’s no doubting he’s a talented songwriter and musician, working his way; treading his own path. (7)