Review: Neil Little, EP

Neil Little

Stratford, Ontario’s Neil Little presents a pastoral tapestry of gentle acoustic guitar and everyman lyrics.

I first heard Neil Little with his backing band The Chrome Hearts in 2018 and immediately found a connection to him.  I liked his unassuming, polite demeanor. The candor of his songs seemed authentic. His guitar playing was near-perfect; never over-playing or showing off. He is talented, precise and clever enough to keep the songs interesting. His first solo collection showcases all of these strengths.

If Dave Matthews was able to shed his frat-boy tendencies, and leave his adoration of “jam” bands in the closet, he might sound this good. Maybe.  There’s something about the timbre of Neil Little’s gentle sort of drawl on this EP, washed in reverb, that reminds me of Matthews’ hit Crash into Me.

Anyone who has spent time in a summer cabin, woke up early in the morning before everybody else, sipped their hot coffee on a creaky wooden dock with steam floating from the cup into the cool breeze while the sun rises, will know the temperament of these songs.

Neil uses his lyrics to create delicate, pastoral impressions in the listener’s mind.  They might not all seem connected from one line to the next but, their effectiveness lies in his ability to join the fragments.  Take the first lines from final track Our Own Wood: “I think dog gets drunk/he’s back there eating apples/that’s where they fall close to the trunk”; these everyman words sung with Neil’s soft whisper, set a familiar atmosphere and laidback mood.

Each of the seven songs included were written by Neil and recorded by Scott Merritt in Guelph, Ontario.  Canadian producer and engineer aficionados will probably recognize Scott from his work from many Juno nominated/won and Polaris nominated albums.  Scott’s talent here lies in his ability to capture Neil’s performances with absolute clarity.  Every note floats to your ear, as soft and warm as a dandelion seed-head brushing your cheek in early summer.

The Neil Little EP is available in CD at his shows, streaming from your favorite services and in downloadable digital form directly from him here: https://neillittle.bandcamp.com/releases

Steve Murphy

A bit of a Renaissance man, Steve Murphy is a singer-songwriter, author, and journalist based out of London, Ontario. An avid vinyl collector and audiophile, his personal collection of albums is wide ranging and in the thousands, including four released from his band Westminster Park.

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