Singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Charlie Simpson has been on a long road since his career beginnings over a decade ago; he started off as the youngest member of the beloved pop band Busted, whom he split from to pursue an alternative rock career fronting Fightstar. After a few albums, Fightstar would take an extended hiatus to allow for Charlie to pursue his solo career, which thus far has spawned one EP in 2010 and two studio albums; Long Road Home is his latest sophomore effort. It’s not hard to look up to Simpson with such admiration as he’s gone from singing commercial pop music, made the dangerous but successful transition from such pop to the heavier alternative rock genre, and now to acoustic music; it’s not so easy for many artists these days to demonstrate such a range in genre. Long Road Home continues his journey as a solo artist.
Opening track Long Road Home consists of harmonies galore, its chorus has somewhat of a Coldplay essence to it; the track just flows so nicely and is a great introduction to what else is to come from the record. The indie/alternative feel of Comets hits the spot almost to perfection, the overall pace of the melody provides the space necessary for Simpson to demonstrate his abilities as a seasoning songwriter; lead single Winter Hymns is beautifully finger picked and the strings set the tone, with Simpson’s vocal as raw as it gets. Emily is another soothing number where once again the harmonies shine, and second single Haunted has a great blend of folk/pop which gives the album a bit of a lift; Would You Love Me Any Less delivers the wonderful trademark Simpson melody, the guitar work going on is beautiful to listen to and the lyrics are great.
Ten Days Later is an atmosphere of grace, the elements of pop just flow so well with the overall folk/indie sound Charlie is going for; Blood has a very similar vibe going for it. Still Young is that harmonious, nostalgic number that you would listen to on a summer’s eve whilst enjoying a cool beverage; it begins at a soothing dynamic, before evolving into a chorus of voices and sound. Forty Thieves isn’t the strongest content featured on the album, it still stays true to the concept Charlie was aiming towards sonically, but it doesn’t bring anything new to the table. Last, but certainly not least, Another Year is introduced by the finger picking we’ve grown to love and appreciate whilst listening to this album, and the harmonies are in full bloom for the last time, bringing Long Road Home to a deserving close.
Charlie Simpson’s Long Road Home proves to be a nice, soothing listening experience; Charlie is everything that folk/pop/indie should be, with beautiful harmonies lifting the spirit of each track from dim to bright, and the punchy hooks and choruses take the songs to a level you couldn’t fathom at first. If Coldplay’s Chris Martin was to release a solo record, you would have Long Road Home; Charlie and Chris have a very similar vocal tone, and at times you would think you were listening to Coldplay experiment with sounds away from their big band vibe. Long Road Home is something Charlie Simpson should be proud of.