Holler Country Music

EXCLUSIVE: Our Man In The Field Premieres 'How Long'

October 4, 2023 10:00 am GMT

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Taken from the forthcoming album, Gold on the Horizon, ‘How Long’ is a deliciously comforting bowl of soulful country-folk from one of the UK’s most engaging songwriters.

Atmospheric and cinematic, the song is soaked in a peculiarly British kind of melancholy. The sadness of seaside towns in the off season, half empty meal deal shelves at the end of the day and staring out of bus windows at the rain. Gentle, whispery and filled with yearning, ‘How Long’ takes the intimate and heartfelt indie folk of Iron & Wine and Jose Gonzalez and sits it down on a deserted beach on a wet weekday morning in October.

“I can't keep this up much longer I don't think,” he sings, as the song slowly builds around him. “This gaping hole is more than just a chink / I'm taking water I'm going to sink.”

"It’s about waiting for something to change," explained Alex Ellis, the songwriter behind Our Man In The Field. "I wrote it about the feeling that I, and all of us actually, am stuck in a cycle of extremes that I can’t control."

"I think it started with the lowering of the bar in terms of standards of decency in the press, politics and in public life. We’ve become so polarised and entrenched in our own particular side of the arguments that any kind of compromise or meeting in the middle seems unlikely and the cycle of daily disasters/shock rhetoric/appalling behaviour continues unabated. I’m guessing, hoping, that if I’m feeling as sick of it as I am then probably everyone else is as well and we’ll all start to move back together organically regardless of the efforts from those who rely upon the division for their own existence."

Produced and mixed by Tucker Martine – the producer best known for his work with Rosanne Cash, Laura Veirs and Karl Blau - at Flora Recording and Playback in Portland, OR, Gold on the Horizon is the sophomore album from one of the UK’s most authentic americana stars.

The musical pseudonym of British singer and songwriter Alex Ellis, Our Man In The Field has been putting together a small library of perfectly observed character studies since the first album, The Company Of Strangers, came out back in 2020.

“I think of Our Man In The Field as kind of a character and not really even me,” says Ellis. “Something like a Jack Kerouac or an Albert Camus. A writer and a correspondent, a roving reporter but more like a TV version in the ‘70s; Hunter S. Thompson but less guns and LSD. Mostly, I don’t want the listener to think about the songs as being mine or about me, it’s more about the story and the characters in there. They’re always about real people and hopefully that makes them relatable."

‘How Long’ is premiering exclusively on Holler below.

The project is the result of a mid-life epiphany. In 2014, Ellis found himself in the hospital under observation for intense abdominal pains. Tests were conducted and a tumour was discovered; further worrying, as a similar growth led to his father’s death in his 40s. As Ellis awaited treatment, he reflected on his dad’s life - hard work in a job he didn’t like, with no ability to enjoy the fruits of his labour before he passed - and realized he needed to make some changes to avoid the same fate.

Until then, Ellis had been an actor - landing commercials and other gigs to keep him afloat until the next audition, but never catapulting him to a fulfilling life in the profession. Paired with a particularly denigrating commercial acting role, the health scare begged the question - What do you want to do? And what Ellis thought of most while bored and anxious in the hospital bed wasn’t the auditions or commercial gigs, but playing his guitar and the freedom and expression of songwriting.

“The music is probably the result of listening to a lot of my parents' records when I was a kid: The Eagles, John Denver, The Carpenters, Van Morrison,” says Ellis. “Then, when I was first buying my own stuff from that guy on Redcar beach; Paul Weller, Ocean Colour Scene, REM, The Bluetones, and then going through the inevitable Dylan phase and the ongoing Neil Young and Creedence obsession.”

‘How Long’ is taken from the forthcoming album, Gold on the Horizon, to be released on November 3rd on In The Field Recordings.

Written by Jof Owen
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