Review Summary: A hit and miss debut full length.
From the wildly successful bubblegum pop of Busted to the more credible (and vastly darker) melancholic rock of Fightstar, it is certainly fair to say that the career of Charlie Simpson so far has been diverse. So it is not surprising that 'Young Pilgrim' takes yet another musical bearing as Simpson shows us an additional facet to his talents with some folky acoustic numbers.
For the most part, it is a solid first solo effort. Simpsons knack of writing memorable and hooky melodies is in rude health here, especially in the soothing and heartfelt first single 'Down, Down, Down', which progresses from driftingly morose into a joyous, furiously strummed outro. His husky vocals are also continually pleasant, with some impressive harmonious interplay working well with the twinkling guitars in 'Thorns' and the empassioned delivery of the smouldering 'Riverbanks' being particularly rousing.
Yet, although the album is a consistantly obliging listen, it does tend to become a rather dreary affair. Tracks such as 'Sundown' and 'Skin And Bones', seem to just amble blandly towards their conclusion without ever taking off, and it is these songs that unfortunatley take away from the more engaging material here. The pastoral, rustic ambience also, hugely reminisent of recent artists such as Mumford and Sons, tends to come across as rather cliche.
'Young Pilgrim' undeniably isn't going to set the world alight, and it is leagues away from competing with the glut of acoustic heavyweights currently in the market. But the songwriting aptitude and range of ideas on display do more than enough to kickstart a promising venture for Simpson, and re-enforce his standing as a versatile and accomplished young musician.