With its easy blend of adult pop and narrative driven lyrics, Ewan MacFarlane’s debut solo album ‘Always Everlong’, released in 2021, set the Scottish singer songwriter on a very accessible musical path this year. Displaying the kind of talent that makes him appealing to a broad audience, it was easy to hear traces of Tom Petty in the title cut, but there was far more about the album’s maudlin moods that shared a heart with past works by fellow Scotsman Blue Rose Code, even without the material taking a pop/rock route rather than an obvious country influence. Whatever your take on it, the album – which took shape during the first lockdown of 2020 – couldn’t be any further removed from MacFarlane’s earlier recordings with Apollo 440.
Waving goodbye to another tricky twelve months, Ewan invites everyone to listen as he takes stock of ‘This Year’ on a very downbeat Christmas single. The track’s stripped back arrangement often seems to threaten to drop into light electronica, as is its synthetic feel, but there’s a warmth in both the lyric and the aching vocal that lends everything that necessary humanity that drew people to MacFarlane in the first place. There’s something about ‘This Year’s dour mood that occasionally makes it feel like a Deacon Blue b-side, or one of Ricky Ross’s more reflective tales. It might not be blessed with the sleigh bells, snow and other cliches, but the heartfelt voice and narrative sort of make it quietly reflective in the way that’s often invited by the festive period. It joins the 2019 xmas track from Charlotte Carpenter in terms of ‘alternative’ December listens.
Stream the new video below.