Following the release of his hit singles, “This Town” and “Slow Hands,” singer/songwriter Niall Horan is set to release his debut solo LP on Friday, October 20.
While he was the first member to release a solo single following the departure of former band member Zayn Malik, Horan is the third former member of One Direction to release a solo album since the band went on hiatus in late 2016.
He is signed to Capitol Records and is currently on his Flicker Sessions tour that will be followed by a world tour in 2018.
Track 1: “On the Loose”
Right off the bat, Horan begins his album with a guitar driven tune that can only be described as a love child between two classic bands, Fleetwood Mac and the Eagles. However, for long-time fans, this won’t come as a surprise. Horan told Billboard that he and Eagles member Don Henley often speak, referring to each other as “dad” and “son.” In the song, he warns about a woman whose “eyes could burn down the room,” telling listeners to “get out while you can, you don’t understand, she doesn’t know how to lose.”
Track 2: “This Town”
“This Town” was released in 2016 and is the closest resemblance to the love songs sung by One Direction such as “18” and “Little Things.” Horan sings about a lover from a small town back home that he still greatly loves. Although he tries to move on from this person, there’s something special about them that keeps him hooked.
Track 3: “Seeing Blind”
The only collaboration on the album is with Grammy winner, Maren Morris, who Horan personally reached out to, as reported by Variety. The song digs into country roots and sounds like something you’d play while driving down an empty highway with a group of friends, singing at the top of your lungs. Horan and Morris’ voices harmonize beautifully and this makes the song stand out from all the others.
Track 4: “Slow Hands”
It’s easy to see why Horan scored a number 1 on Billboard’s Pop Songs Chart with this song. “Slow Hands,” the second single of the album, is catchy, and there’s no doubt that you’ll find yourself singing along to the risque lyrics, “slow hands, like sweat dripping down our dirty laundry.”
Track 5: “Too Much To Ask”
“Too Much To Ask” is the first song on the album that starts off with the notes of a piano. It’s also the first song on the album to have an “Explicit” warning label on it. Horan sings about reminiscing on a failed relationship and it is clear to hear his pain through the emotion he conveys through his lyrics. “Don’t it feel f*cked up, we’re not in love,” he growls out.
Track 6: “Paper Houses”
Another slow song, Horan continues to sing about a failed relationship. “Turn your head and let us go, I’ll learn to breathe on my own,” he pleads. The lyrics in the bridge take a turn, as he sings about not wanting to “lose your touch.” Horan continues to sing soulfully over the sound of a prominent drum beat that stands out amongst the acoustic and electric guitars.
Track 7: “Since We’re Alone”
With a more upbeat feel than the previous two, this track resembles Fleetwood Mac’s “Rhiannon.” “Since We’re Alone” even ends on a similar note, and the background vocals of Horan fading out is parallel to those of Stevie Nicks’ on “Rhiannon.” Horan is singing to his partner about how he’d like to get to know her better and be the one to show them what love is, “since we’re alone, you can show me your heart. If you put it all in my hand, no I swear, no I won’t break it apart.”
Track 8: “Flicker”
The most heartfelt and heartbreaking song on the album, “Flicker” was a tear jerker. The song begins with the strumming of the instrument he can almost always be seen with: the guitar. The track is very intimate as Horan allows the listener insight to personal lyrics. He recalls the first time he saw his lover, “Then I think of the start and it echoes a spark, and I remember the magic electricity.” As the song progresses, it feels as though you are a part of the story he is singing. Horan sings about how he knows the relationship is going to end, however he’s holding on to a “flicker of hope” that things will turn out well. The violins mixed with the echoes of his vocals blend to give the song an extra heartbreaking stab.
Track 9: “Fire Away”
This track is slow, soft, and acoustic driven. Horan’s quiet vocals give the song a calming and soothing vibe. “Fire Away” and “Since We’re Alone” can be described as twins. They both describe the same message the same way twins share looks, but “Fire Away,” is the shy one while “Since We’re Alone” is the more rowdy sister. “Darling you don’t have to hold it, you don’t have to be afraid, you can go ahead and unload it cause you know it’ll be okay,” sings Horan.
Track 10: “You and Me”
This track tells a story that can describe almost every Hollywood love story with a happy ending. The song is a narrative of a couple who stick together through all their ups and downs. Horan sings, “When I look down the line, at the man I wanna be, I’ve always known from the start that it ends with you and me.” While the track is edging on borderline cheesy, it does send an optimistic message and it may become the next “Thinking Out Loud” and get played at wedding receptions as a song choice for a first dance.
Track 11: “On My Own”
It’s evident that Horan returned to his Irish roots with this track. The folk-sounding tune transports you to a place where people are dancing and laughing, enjoying life to the fullest. Unlike the rest of songs, there is no love story embedded into the lyrics, rather more a love for being alone and able to experience life as it passes, “You can offer the world baby, but I’d take this instead.”
Track 12: “Mirrors”
The notes of the electric guitar are mixed with the sound of Horan’s voice singing about a girl who struggles to find love in herself and in the world around her: “She’s closed the door, she hides behind a face nobody knows, she feels her skin touch the floor.” As the song progresses, we follow the story of this girl who begins to find love, “He turned around and said ‘I hope you know you’re beautiful everywhere I’ve been told.’ She’s a little shy, as he walks away she slowly breaks a smile, the skies are blue, they haven’t been in a while.” Horan proves through lyrics, his ability to tell stories in a way no artists can. He paints a picture with his lyrics allowing listeners to delve in deeper to the meaning of the song.
Track 13: “The Tide”
The final track of the album, “The Tide” wraps up the album perfectly. The piano and violins give an element of surprise to this drum driven song. Horan’s vocals reminds us why he deserved more solos during his time in One Direction. His powerful voice drives the emotion and puts a heavy emphasis on the message he’s trying to get across. “Don’t let the tide come and wash us away,” he sings, implying that he not only wants to save the relationship, but he needs to save himself as well.
Horan introduces listeners to a new sound, much different than what people may have been used to hearing in One Direction. He delivers soft, yet powerful vocals that show off his singing abilities and allow us to hear how he’s growing as a solo artist.
“Flicker” will not only allow old fans to discover a new sound, but also pave the way for new fans to be introduced to a Niall Horan they have never seen before.
Favorite Tracks: “Seeing Blind,” “Flicker,” “Mirrors”
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