Niall Horan's Flicker: What You Need To Know
For anyone under the age of about 23, Irish singer-songwriter probably needs no introduction; as a member of all-conquering boyband One Direction, Horan has enjoyed the adulation of fans all over the world and, since the band went on hiatus, is about to become the third Directioner (if we're including former member Zayn Malik) to release a solo album.
It's called Flicker, it arrives in stores today, and here's everything you need to know about it...
A little background...
The first single from Horan's solo debut actually arrived more than a year ago now in the form of 'This Town', a folk-influenced, acoustic guitar-led number produced by Greg Kurstin that signalled Horan's intention to take his solo career in a very different direction to the slick pop of his erstwhile band.
In the months that have passed since then, Horan has been taking his time over his debut album, drafting in a host of songwriters, producers and collaborators to help him craft the 10 new songs that appear on the new record. Two further singles – 'Slow Hands' and 'Too Much To Ask' emerged in May and September respectively, the latter accompanied by the announcement that his debut album would be released on October 20th.
Who's producing it?
Greg Kurstin produces several of the album's 10 tracks, while there are also credits for One Direction producer Julian Bunetta.
Any special guests?
There are songwriting credits for the likes of Tobias Jesso Jr., but in terms of performers the only guest is American country music singer Maren Morris, who appears on 'Seeing Blind'.
What does it sound like?
Let's start with what it doesn't sound like: it does not sound like One Direction. Horan has said that his writing for the album was influenced by classic rock acts like Fleetwood Mac and The Eagles - with Don Henley's solo material released in the 1980s being a particular reference point - and that does shine through in places on the album.
'Slow Hands' is a case in point; a laid-back groove propelled by guitars and thumping drums that's quite different from anything 1D might have done, but elsewhere it's the folk influences on the album that seem to dominate, especially on songs like 'This Town' and the album's parting shot, 'You & Me'.
Elsewhere there's the towering, piano-led ballad 'Too Much To Ask' and the lilting folk of the album's title track, both exhibiting a new level of maturity about his songwriting.
Does it deliver?
One Direction fans will rush out to buy it regardless, no doubt, but they'll be pleased to hear that this is a solid debut from Niall Horan that's unlikely to disappoint his admirers, but it might just win him some new ones too. There's nothing particularly groundbreaking on offer here, but Horan has clearly gone the right way about finding his feet as a solo artist, taking his time to craft a batch of songs that'll do his prospects of a lasting solo career no harm whatsoever.