Our Man In The Field – Gold On the Horizon
The moniker Our Man In the Field is not so much a band as a person – it’s the pseudonym of British observer/ singer/songwriter Alex Ellis. Nothing wrong with that, the late Prince Rogers Nelson did something similar twice, once with a shortening of his name to just Prince & then with a symbol.
Sting & Bono both have done this with variations on their names or nicknames. The name for Alex however depicts a music that is rural, down to earth, or back to earth. On first listen, that could be true since his performative additive is soulful songs that are mild folk with very little embellishment & lots of musings on life & its nuances.
This LP Gold On the Horizon (Drops Nov 3-In the Field Recording) is Our Man In the Field’s sophomore effort. With songs that put a lack of civility in the media, politics as it is today & public life all under a musical microscope.
Produced by Tucker Martine & recorded in Portland, OR the set features 11-cuts with soulful vocals & sparse arrangements. Not entirely a Van Morrison but close. Songs like “Silver Linings,” have a jazzy undertone & a savvy vocal approach & Alex has a good tonality to his warm voice that requires at least that in this type of repertoire.
While hailing from Britain the “home” of Americana/roots music here in the States since much of the most traditional compositions that weren’t written down or transcribed came from over the pond & into the Appalachian mountains.
This isn’t a set of those types of songs but there is an undertow beneath the surface of the creativity that compensates for tradition & uplifts the vintage tinge. The songs are memorable & well-written yet, don’t profess any mainstream sweetness or commercial flair. The indulgence is in relation to what is being sung about. Even the pensive “Great White Hope,” has a bit of David Gray in the lining, an indulgent Jackson Browne blend & held together by a jazzy-folk aesthetic.
The songs are not so maudlin or sung with a melancholy delicacy as they would suggest since they are moderate in tempo & sung with a laid-back middle-of-the-road ease. The songs have a lift in their saveur, their textures & they are indeed all accessible. “Go Easy,” is imbued with a noirish sensibility & nostalgic horns.
The performance has a passionate tone – good music needs to be listened to, not with the ears every time – but with the heart. Evident in “Glad To See You” & “How Long.”
Highlights – “Silver Linings,” “Great White Hope,” “Go Easy,” “Glad To See You,” “How Long” & “Long Forgotten.”
Musicians – Henry Senior (pedal steel/dobro), Greg Bishop (drums/harmonies), Raul Biancardi (synth), Luke Ydstie (bass) & Alex Ellis (all other instruments).
Color image courtesy of OMITF website. CD @ https://omitf.com/