Review: Niall Horan ‘Slow Hands’ Single
Once the product of Simon Cowell’s ‘One Direction’ project, Mullingar boy Niall Horan furthers his solo career to release the second single from his forthcoming album.
‘Slow Hands’ is without question a strong song. A classic structure of verse, bridge, chorus, repeat, middle etc. lends the piece both predictability and surprise. No four-chord cliché here, so thankfully he’s left that behind in his unidirectional past. And it’s the second time he has achieved this, because the previous single ‘This Town’ was itself an evocative and intriguing, well-written folk-pop ballad.
So there’s good, solid songwriting here. But there’s a problem. Which is that there’s no way to pinpoint where the composition talent really lies. That’s because as was the case with One Direction albums, you’d need a decent-sized minibus to haul the credited ‘songwriters’ around. There’s just umpteen of them.
It’s doubly frustrating because it’s not the same creative committee on ‘Slow Hands’ as on ‘This Town’. Musically, the only thread running between the authorship of the two songs is that Horan is stated as contributing to both. So we don’t really know if he actually wrote the songs and was contractually obliged to acknowledge others’ two-penn’orth, or whether his only input to ‘Slow Hands’ was the addition of “yeah” to the middle-eight.
The two singles differ hugely in the lyric. While ‘This Town’ oozed pathos and pensiveness…
Waking up to kiss you and nobody’s there
The smell of your perfume still stuck in the air
… ‘Slow Hands’ is a bit more, well, you know…
Yeah, I want you, baby
I’ve been thinking ’bout it all day
And I hope you feel the same way, yeah
There is much to admire in Niall Horan as a musician. Competent guitarist, strong voice with a slightly raspy, bluesy edge to it, and an appealing presence and personality. He seems to have outgrown the boy-blandedness of 1D, if he ever had it, to develop his own musical identity.
I just wish we knew whether he actually is a songwriter. If he is, and these two singles really are of his own making, then his current output suggests good music to come.
On the other hand, if he is just a front man for yet another disappointing corporate pop machine, perhaps we are watching another fifteen minutes tick inexorably by. Either way, for now this is an encouraging start, and we will watch with interest for other dripfeeds from his album.
Meanwhile, having everybody in the building raise a hand to be put on the list of writers doesn’t necessarily detract from the quality of the song, of course. But musically speaking, perhaps it’s time for the real Niall Horan to please stand up.