When Westlife announced that they were calling it a day, their fans were devastated. The announcement came unexpectedly in 2011 and the group went their separate ways following the release of a Greatest Hits collection and a farewell tour. Following in the footsteps of former member Brian McFadden, Shane Filan announced that he would be pursuing a solo career. Surely we’re in for a one-man Westlife seeing as he was really the group’s lead singer?
Well Filan is out to surprise with the release of his first EP Everything To Me. We can safely say that whatever we were expecting it wasn’t this. When lead track Everything To Me debuted it was clear that Filan is using this opportunity to reinvent his sound and establish himself as a credible solo artist. Not only is the song not a cover, it’s an original track that’s co-penned by Filan himself. Musically the song is a sun-drenched upbeat number that is perfect for this late summer we’ve been enjoying.
With our interest peaked we checked out the rest of the EP and we’re pleased (and surprised) to report that it’s a strong collection of songs that show Filan really does mean business. Everytime is a folksy acoustic number that brings to mind The Lumineers’ Ho Hey with Filan’s strong vocals driving the melody, and Today’s Not Yesterday is a gorgeous ballad that goes for simplicity meaning there’s no key change just a strong vocal and a simple piano melody.
The strongest track on the EP is the laidback acoustic riffs of Once. Filan uses different nuances in his voice showing a slightly raspier side before letting go on the chorus. The simplicity of the track is its beauty and it’s great to hear Filan’s voice without the harmonies of his former bandmates. In some ways it feels like we’re hearing him for the very first time.
Everything To Me is not the EP we’d expected from Filan. Showing no traces of his former Westlife sound, the EP is a confident and credible collection. When we interviewed him a few weeks back it was clear that Filan was nervous about whether he’d be given a fair shot. If he keeps releasing material of this strength we wouldn’t worry. We weren’t big fans of Westlife but we could see ourselves going out to buy this.