The album cover shown above is from the recording Long Road To Home by Distant Voices. The reason that I am cutting and pasting, instead of gushing superlatives over this magnificent recording. It is the fact that Valdis Stekelis, the creator of this record, can add background and filler that I could not do.
Begin the paste.
Distant Voices is the solo project of Valdis Stekelis, who wrote and began writing these tracks in 2019, finally finishing a year later due to the delayed realities of the UK lockdown. The band name itself was chosen during that period to reflect these unusual times, where live music (as we have previously experienced it) is a scarce occurrence and where we consume music with a less personal connection to the people making it. ‘Stranger Among Friends’ is one of nine tracks released on Distant Voices’ debut album ‘Long Road To Home’, all inspired by Stekelis’ travels in the pre-Covid era. Earlier, he previewed the high-velocity rock n’ roll lead single ‘Lights of The City’ with an accompanying video by Alit Gonzalez. “Stranger Among Friends emerged from the feeling of being homesick and just general events that happened while I was visiting Berlin. Certain themes crop up throughout the album, like meeting people for a while and then saying goodbye and never seeing them again. Brexit was on my mind when I took this trip. I went to see the European Parliament and the UN in Geneva for this reason,” says Valdis Stekelis. “At the end of the trip, I had a strong sense that this travel would not happen again in the way it did due to the point I was at in life, but I did not realise that everything would be restricted in the way we are now with Covid (and) lockdowns. I am very pleased retrospectively that I chose to do it when I did, and it seems more significant than before to me in light of where we are now”. The ‘Long Road To Home’ LP was recorded at EAS Studios near London in collaboration with producer-engineer Ed Sokolowski, known for his work on albums by Melanie C, Fleur East, Hugel, David Archuleta and Lukas Rieger. Sokolowki mixed and mastered this album, as well as co-producing it with Stekelis. Joe Montague also contributes drums on multiple tracks.
“This is the first body of work completed under the Distant Voices name, which I am very keen for people to hear and hope that they will enjoy it. The album was inspired by events that happened during my journey around Europe in 2019, and, in fact, they appear chronologically in the tracklisting,” says Valdis Stekelis. “There is a range of different feeling tracks on the album – from lively to melancholy and also psychedelic. They are tied together – both in terms of the subject matter and also due to the underlying elements of a retro feel with electronic flavour. It was a lot of fun to make and is truly inspired by events that really affected me at the time”.
See, I told you so. Valdis Stekelis did such an excellent job of summing the recording up that there is little that I could add. I will, however, attempt to add something. I feel an affinity for this recording from the first guitar strums at the lead-in at track one side one, Lights Of The City. The jangling guitar lulled me in, and then Distant Voices kicked the volume up a notch and started the rock and roll show. The music sounds familiar and fresh at the same time. It’s like buying a new cardigan. I know what a cardigan is, how it feels, how it fits, but the new one is different, and I like it. The Long Road To Home is something like that. Familiar and fresh and I like it.
I appreciate the inclusion of the travelogue itinerary for my next European vacation. Each track has a story to tell, and each track retains its own musical DNA, unique but a part of the whole.
ALBUM TRACKLISTING 01. Lights Of The City 02. Stranger Among Friends 03. Walk Along The Cobblestones 04. I Need A Friend 05. Nothing Really Happened In Vienna 06. Halfway To Rome 07. View From Lake Geneva 08. Last Night In Amsterdam 09. I’m Coming Home Keep up with Distant Voices
‘Stranger Among Friends’ https://youtu.be/EI4Ds7EG4QI
‘Lights of The City’ single https://youtu.be/iocT4eqi90U
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