By: Connor Glowacki
It's happening, folks. Multiple members of English boy band One Direction are attempting to find success as solo acts.
After Zayn Malik released his debut album 'Mind Of Mine' in March, which included the number one hit 'Pillowtalk', Niall Horan became the second member to release original music in the form of his debut solo single 'This Town'.
I was never in One Direction's targeted demographic and therefore couldn't stand alot of their songs that were aimed to pander toward an adolescent, female fanbase.
But as a stadium pop-rock act, I will acknowledge they ended up cutting some better songs as their career progressed ('Story Of My Life', 'Best Song Ever', 'Night Changes' and 'History' as examples).
Unlike the R&B inspired sounds of Malik's 'Pillowtalk', 'This Town' utilizes a folkier instrumentation built around an acoustic guitar that presents sounds similar to One Direction's music. This song musically can be best describe as Horan wishing to be the next sensitive singer-songwriter in mainstream music, following in the veins of Ed Sheeran and Shawn Mendes.
The production is fairly clean, but Horan, who co-wrote the song, develops a successful melody in the chorus that stays around and can stick in your head.
Vocally, Horan presents a muted, but earnest delivery. When I first heard the song on the radio, I first thought it was a folk singer, like Passenger or even Matt Nathanson.
The lyrics also tell a similar story that a One Direction song would tell, which is lamenting and pining for another chance with the girl that was left in a hometown. But it also has a few more layers to it.
Horan said in an interview that 'This Town' was written in a way that could be interpreted as both a song about a girl from his hometown, and his hometown in general. This shows that Horan is slowly developing subtlety as a writer and demonstrates future potential.
'This Town' is similar to 'Pillowtalk' in certain ways. They have both reached number one on the iTunes charts and sees both singers branching out from the One Direction stadium pop-rock sound in slightly different ways. Will 'This Town' be a hit like 'Pillowtalk'? I think it will debut high on the next Billboard Hot 100, but I'm doubtful that it will reach number one right off the bat.
Here's the bottom line though.
Like 'Pillowtalk', 'This Town' isn't any kind of dramatic and exploratory musical statement. But it's a decent enough pop song that I think sounds slightly more authentic that Malik's offering. Are there better singer-songwriters out there than Horan, Sheeran and Mendes? Of course.
But 'This Town' is a nice start for the 23-year-old Horan and a small step toward more mature content from his One Direction days. We'll see how the rest of his rumored album shapes up, which will reportedly be released in early 2017.
RATING: 3 Out Of 5 (***)
I think Horan's got some potential to become a solid songwriter.
Let me know what you think of the song by leaving a comment below or on Twitter @ConnorGlowacki.