Oh the joys of live music. There really isn't much to better it. But, since we are currently denied such pleasure what about a lovingly recorded live studio album? This is what Our Man In The Field (A.K.A. Alexander Ellis) set out to accomplish on 'The Company Of Strangers', and boy does he carry it off with some style.
Alexander is originally from the North East of England but now lives in London, where he recorded ‘The Company Of Strangers’ live at The Rattle Studio in the city’s Tobacco Dock. It’s produced and engineered by Jim Wallis who really has done an outstanding job.
There is a sort of foreign correspondent reporting feel to the dispatches presented here. Really noteworthy and very prominent is the pedal steel playing of Henry Senior from Danny and the Champions of the World. Alongside this, we have great acoustic guitar, piano, fiddle, and bass playing… oh, and nice brush playing on drums. Musically, it’s just a lovely relaxed feel – top players in their comfort zone. The vocals are similarly relaxed but sweet and pure throughout, including nice harmonies.
What about the songs? Well, they do not lower the standard one bit. All written by Ellis, they cover a variety of themes mostly based on observations of life and living from near and far. ‘Eleanor’s Song’ touches upon friendship in difficult times. ‘Stick Around’ also deals with relationships in a tender and considered fashion. The writer is also comfortable reflecting on social issues; ‘It Was Ever So’, about the closure of a fire station, reflecting upon change and its impact upon human lives.
Overall there is a feeling of careful observation and reflection upon the world around the writer. Very appropriate in our present circumstances.
It’s easy to see why this artist has drawn comparisons with a string of top artists such as Nick Drake and even Van Morrison. I would add Paul Brady and Gerry Rafferty to the list. But, first and foremost, it’s Alexander Ellis – Our Man in The Field.