Former Grim Northern Social frontman and long-time member of electro maestros Apollo 440, Ewan MacFarlane this week releases Always Everlong, an album of music he “always needed to make”. Writing throughout lockdown and uploading a song an evening to YouTube for much of that time, Ewan worked with childhood friend Davie Rollo, who added vocals and guitar before mixing and mastering the tracks, as well as Grim Northern Social’s keyboard player Andy Cowan, Dougie Hannah on drums, Kirsty McAfferty on keys and vocals and Andy McAfferty on bass. Adding beautifully haunting backing vocals were Ewan’s daughters Jenijo and Ellijai MacFarlane.
The album kicks off with a rousing anthem that celebrates freedom and celebration, apparently written when Glasgow’s lockdown restrictions were eased – everything about this song, from the tempo, lyrics and melody shouts joy, love of life and celebration. The refrain of “what a day” accompanied by “it’s not even Friday” are all that’s needed to convey the joy of just being outside and feeling part of the ‘Stirrin’ in the City‘. As with many of the rest of the tracks, there is immense danceability here; I dare you to sit down.
The pulsing rhythms of the first track carry on into ‘I Know That You Know‘, a pop rock song with a slight touch of punk, before moving into Americana with ‘Northern Star‘, a lilting love song that almost won out as my favourite of the twelve tracks.
The song that ‘Northern Star’ ran close to being my favourite is ‘Underneath Your Spell‘, a rock infused Americana based love song that is upbeat, joyful and says everything that needs to be said about what love can bring to a person’s life. The line “underneath your spell is where I wanna be” is simple yet says everything. The song moves seamlessly into the slower, softer sound of ‘Never Needed Somebody‘ and ‘You’re Blood and You’re Mine‘, a love song to the love of a child whilst the title track brings back the danceability as well as the simple yet evocative lyrics that are found throughout Always Everlong:
be still…be strong…be always everlong…be what you will
The presence of influences such as Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty are everywhere on this album and never more so than in ‘Validated‘ and ‘The End is Just the Beginning‘. Ewan’s versatile voice encompasses the twang of Americana overladen with rock sensibilities and brings Always Everlong to a satisfying ending.
Ewan’s advice for aspiring musicians is that
“There are no rules in this game”. For me honesty has always been the main objective at the forefront of everything. When you write it’s ok to come up with the main hook and build around it. In saying that it’s also ok to go the classic road and start with the intro into the first verse and so on. Don’t be safe just because you don’t want to offend anyone, speak your truth. Be prepared for a hard slog and many rejections and let those rejections make you stronger as a writer and musician. Don’t give up!
Always Everlong is released on October 29 on Royale Stag Records.
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