Thursday, 9 June 2011
Charlie Simpson - Young Pilgrim / Parachutes
Two studio albums with Busted, three with Fightstar - it's been a productive decade for Charlie Simpson. And now, 2011 sees him releasing his debut solo album Young Pilgrim, a record that undeniably feels like his most assured release to date.
Lead single Down Down Down has already received plentiful airplay on Radio 1 and showcased how Simpson's new material was all about a new, more mature, more stripped-back vibe. Gone was the grandeur and complexities of Fightstar, replaced by the intensity and openness only a single man and his guitar can conjure up.
It is on new track Parachutes that Simpson really hits his stride though - a real anthemic Coldplay-esque rock ballad that puts Simpson's rich, sonorous voice to best use. It's the sound of someone far older, far wiser - a voice befitting his years in the industry, now finally given the freedom to sing true and strike straight through to the hearts of the listeners.
All things considered then, Young Pilgrim seems a particularly fitting title for his first solo foray into the world. He is the man that wears his travels and experiences for all to see, his music giving him the means to share those stories with anyone willing to hear it.
There's something so utterly British about Simpson's music - a tranquil, almost stately feel to it. Working with acclaimed Doves and Coldplay producer Danton Supple on this album, the sound of those bands is everywhere, particularly on the sublime Thorns. It's perhaps here that we best see how confident Simpson feels in these songs - everything is natural, unstressed; operating at what seems like a slower, more peaceful pace than the hectic world all around us.
It's like that feeling when you step into a shop and try on a whole heap of clothes that don't suit you, only to finally find that one item that does at the end. It's that subtle sense of satisfaction, of humble accomplishment - and it's here in Young Pilgrim - this is the sound that fits Simpson, that really suits him; and you can tell he knows it. More confident, more assured - that satisfaction shines through in the music.
It's there in Thorns, the guitar positively twinkling - conjuring up images of birdsong at morning, stars at night. And it's there in Farmer & His Gun - channeling a more traditional singer-songwriter vibe, even working in country elements with lush swathes of harmonic.
Like so many band members 'gone solo' before him, Young Pilgrim is the sound of a man set free from restriction, resulting in a record that feels more organic, more caught up in the personality and feelings of the individual. In other words, that distinct 'personal' touch.
Young Pilgrim is released on the 15th August and can be pre-ordered here. Parachutes is released on the 8th August.