Health scares have a habit of changing lives. Almost 10 years ago, a case of appendicitis sent Our Man In The Field’s Alex Ellis to the hospital, where doctors found a tumor that was alarmingly similar to the one that killed his father a year short of his 50th birthday. A struggling actor at the time, Ellis made it out the other end with renewed purpose. His sporadic forays into songwriting became more consistent, and a new occupation began to take hold when he moved to London.
A friend sent a few of his tunes to BBC radio host Tom Robinson, who debuted them on the air. That led to Ellis’ first live shows and, eventually, Our Man In The Field’s 2020 debut, The Company Of Strangers. Three years later, Ellis couldn’t be farther from London on the new Gold On The Horizon (In The Field Recordings), which was recording in Portland, Ore., and produced by Tucker Martine (My Morning Jacket, Rosanne Cash, Sufjan Stevens). Its sonic topography is rugged and windblown, driven by acoustic guitar, pedal steel and Ellis’ friendly beast of a voice, which at times invites comparisons to Ray LaMontagne.
The basis for “Feel Good” harkens back to Ellis’ previous professional life. “It’s about an acting agent I had a few years ago,” he says. “He’d been keen to get me to move from my long-standing agent for some time and came across as a good guy who was hungry to build up his company. He was given a desk at one of the top London agents and began to attract some established actors to his roster.”
Alas, things took an ominous turn a few months later. “He asked to meet for a coffee, and I had no reason to think anything was wrong,” says Ellis. “When I arrived, he didn’t hesitate to let me know that he spent the 10,000 pounds I’d just earned on drugs and prostitutes—and now that he’d told me, he was following the steps and was going to be all right.”
That was the end of the meeting.
“The song came along pretty quickly after I’d developed the opening riff,” says Ellis. “In the studio, Tucker took what we were doing on the demo and lifted it to a completely new level. The Dimpker Brothers can be heard on the harmonies almost shouting ‘feel good’ at the end of each phrase. The addition of brass in the middle eight reminds me of tunes you might find in an old ’70s cop show—and I love it. When we play ‘Feel Good’ at shows and I tell them about the agent, people ask if I ever got the money. I’m still waiting.”
We’re proud to premiere Our Man In The Field’s “Feel Good.”