Littlemen was brought together by Nick Allen who, after being paralysed from the waist down at 17 following a bike accident, set up NAM studios in the Wiltshire countryside. Fronted by the warm vocals of Simon Allen, the line-up features guitarist Andew Murphy, Charlie Jones on bass, drummer Rob Brian, acoustic guitarist James Newton Brady and Phil Andrews on keyboards, their combined CVs embracing such names such as Peter Gabriel, Goldfrapp, Robert Plant and Clare Teale. The experience shows. While Nick doesn’t play on Long Road Home, he does produce and co-write the lyrics, mostly songs of love and loss, with Simon.
They make a fulsome sound on the soaring balladry of album opener Cloudy Nights with its plangent guitars and muscular drums, and the country-rock influenced Take The Apple with its Fleetwood Mac shades, but, otherwise, they album takes the quieter, more contemplative approach embodied in Wings and the clearly autobiographical No One Feels The Heat with its pedal steel, bass line and drumsticks snaps.
As might be expected, there’s darkness here, the pedal steel and mandolin strum of Keep On Running underpinning a lyric about betrayal and guilt (“You can’t get away with what did that day… you keep on running … but you cannot hide”), but equally the 12-string accompanied Edie brings a romantic tenderness (“the angels sing hallelujah for you”) while, Jones on banjo, Dark Blue Eyes is another epiphany of the heart and the summery, softly tumbling Simonesque One Afternoon, with its congas and Wurlitzer, is about reminiscing on what was and seeking acceptance and peace.
Separation and not knowing is at the heart of the title track, the singer a thousand miles away out on the road, wishing they could get back, literally and metaphorically, to speak to their lover, but the snow’s thick and the lines are down and there’s the nagging doubt “I don’t know if you’ll be there at home”. It’s a theme of a relationship on the edge that also informs the acoustic starry-skies, slow waltzing closing track, Twist of Fate, a gradually swelling melancholic song about trying to make up for past mistakes and wanting just one more night, ending on the plea “don’t leave me now”. It probably won’t find the exposure or the audience it deserves, but, with its heartfelt emotional lyrics and Allen’s softly yearning vocals, it is assuredly worth seeking out.
Long Road Home is Out Now
Order it vi Bandcamp: littlemensounds.bandcamp.com