As the Covid pandemic and indeed Brexit over in this particular continent seem hell bent on preventing normality and freedom returning in any previous sense, UK’s Distant Voices give us a memory of what was available before with debut album Long Road To Home. It offers a collection of songs bred from its creator’s journey across Europe, an aural travelogue of adventure and experiences crafted in rock ‘n’ roll which hungrily and rousingly got under the skin.
London-based, Distant Voices is the solo project of indie rock-pop artist Valdis Stekelis who, inspired by an ”European junket motivated by Brexit regret and the sense of social separation” which loomed, predominantly wrote Long Road To Home in 2019. But then Covid struck; a hold though which has brought a new and just as relevant and dramatic hue and edge to the release. It is a record which in some ways has an inadvertent melancholy to its celebration but equally a feel good roar and is a fillip to hope for a return of those freedom fuelled days.
Recorded in collaboration with producer-engineer Ed Sokolowski (Melanie C, Fleur East, Hugel, David Archuleta and Lukas Rieger), Joe Montague providing drums on multiple tracks, Long Road To Home brings a variety of flavours and sounds to its varied stop off points set in chronological order to as real events happened for Stekelis and it makes a richly contagious first stop with Lights Of The City. It is a track which instantly strokes keen attention through guitar and voice before kicking into rousing rock ‘n’ roll gear. Once hitting full stride, a potent Dave Edmunds like wind blows across its diverse landscape, a hue which resurfaces often across the album. It is an irresistible stomp of a track immediately putting ears and appetite in the mood for the adventure to come.
Arising from a trip to Berlin and a feeling of being homesick, the following Stranger Among Friends wraps the listener in an indie pop jangle. There is a great eighties essence to it which reminds of bands such as The Bluebells and The Farmers Boys but equally has an indie rock heart as fresh as anything around right now. With that melancholic air making a radiant sheen to its infectious ballad come uproar, the song boldly escalated the album’s impressive start.
Walk Along The Cobblestones shares a psych kissed croon upon the senses next, acoustic guitar and sonic swarthiness colluding in temptation around Sokolowski’s equally warm tones as a touch of Libertines-esque sensibility shines while I Need A Friend similarly from an acoustic shaped opening erupts in rock ‘n’ roll nurtured hullabaloo with that potent scent of that aforementioned Welsh singer-songwriter/guitarist in regard to the opener again a ripe tempting. Fair to say, both tracks were under the skin in no time with the release ensuring it would be a regularly returning friend to these ears.
The grander melodic/psych rock reflection of Nothing Really Happened In Vienna similarly haunts the record and imagination with individual temptation, its rhythmic pulse nagging and melodic elegance seductive. It is a tempting only escalated by Venetian strings and intimation before Halfway To Rome takes ears and thoughts on a summery jaunt merging varied decades of pop and rock in one irrepressible manipulative contagion.
As View From Lake Geneva serenades with psychedelic luminescence and Last Night In Amsterdam immerses ears in equally ethereal captivation, the album if not increased certainly tightened its grip on pleasure. The latter is an especially fascinating and transfixing proposal, hinting at many artists and inspirations but defined in none.
I’m Coming Home is part regret and part joy at the end of the adventure, sad to see its end and of the experiences gained but rich in eagerness to return to familiar welcoming arms and sights. It is a fine acoustic bred finale to one richly and thickly enjoyable encounter; Long Road To Home a joy and the kind of record which has guaranteed pleasure each and every time with increasing dexterity and relish.
Long Road To Home is out now; available @ https://distantvoices1.bandcamp.com/releases
Pete RingMaster 02/07/2021
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