When I prepared for the review of this album, I read in one magazine article that Gregor McEwen is a troubadour if ever there was one at all. In fact, this well-praised artist is a German singer-songwriter. With his 1st September 2023, he is releasing is new album Going Solo. The story behind the album: at the end of his career, he wanted to write a real, classic solo album, as he names it in the press notes. An album just like Johnny Cash’s late works at American Recordings. Just vocals and a western guitar. Sounds promising, doesn’t it? At least he caught me with these words – and here is the corresponding review. Even though the pandemic pushed Gregor’s plans by some years.
Gregor McEwan – About The Artist
Gregor McEwen is the artist name of Hagen Siems. The German singer-songwriter was born in Haltern (nowadays named Haltern am See), he is today living in Berlin. Born on 14th November 1982, he started to play guitar in childhood years. He intiially wrote songs for the indie band Helter Skelter until their break-up in 2009. During this time, he also defined his alter ego Gregor McEwan. Under that artist name, he released his debut album Houses and Homes in 2010. The album was re-released a year later an followed by three more studio albums.
Gregor McEwan – Going Solo – Track by Track
The eleven song album lasts 34 minutes.
1. (To You) CEO, Bitch!
So here is my song pitch
To you CEO, bitch!
Put it on a playlist
And not on your grey list
Watch later on YouTube
Where I just bought fake views
“Payable when due
From streaming revenue”
This beautiful reckoning with the music industry and life as a musician during Covid is not only opening the album, it has also been the first single release of the album. It already sets a clear direction for the whole record: straight records and the simple recording of Gregor and his guitar. The more limited you work, the more precise and well you have to do to get a good song. (To You) CEO, Bitch! is a good song.
2. Anthem For The Year 2020
The second song is nicely connecting to the opener. The song is about his personal experience in 2020. For example, he states I missed hugs and handshakes to I even missed my workplace in the first stanza. By the way, Gregor McEwan is breaking the guitar and vocal thing already in the second song by introducing the harmonica (even with a solo part). I pardon this lack of discipline with a smile – it is a good song.
Talking… starts rather slow, but turns out to be more energetic in the chorus. Nonetheless, the song underlines the very personal and straight character of the album. Even though I liked the two songs before more.
4. Upside Down
Upside Down is one of these beautiful hidden gems of the album. The first time I listened to song, I did not really care about it. But the more I get into this album four minute track, the more I enjoy the straight and personal songwriting.
5. 60 BPM
The title is already suggesting that this song comes with a certain slowdown. It almost feels meditative. The very accentuated vocals lead to a very special touch. Even though this special way of performing also increases the presence of the German accent in the English lyrics. Tik Tok, Tik Tok… Writing songs can feel so simple if you got your homework done right.
With 1:41 minutes, the sixth song is the shortest listen of Going Solo. If you wonder about the title, I don’t spoil your first listen. But I tell you that 1234567 feels like a full song and is definitely not just an interlude track.
7. Halo: Reach
Halo: Reach is one of three single releases in the second half of this record. The song is a beautiful, gentle country ballad. One of the nicest listens of the whole set of songs.
8. Being And Becoming
The eighth song is about coming home soon and sharing all the thoughts and expectations. There are not only positive ones – like and now that I’m in bad shape, I fall asleep very soon. A song like you would expect a beautiful singer-songwriter performance in a small club or bar to be.
9. My Little Girl
I don’t anything about life in this world, but I know most everything about you, my little girl is the key phrase of this one. Gregor is praising love even in situations where you feel to fail in so many other ways. Another really lovely write.
10. Windows Down, Volume Up
This 3:34 minutes song feels to take time where necessary. For example, the first 20 seconds are nothing but rather monotonous guitar strumming. That gives me a hart time to get into this song. It might spread quite some atmosphere as a live track, though.
11. The End.
The closing song feels like a folk-country fairy tale and leaves you with quite some warmth in your heart. What would be a better The End? Nice one!
Gregor McEwan – Going Solo – Spotify
I will add the Spotify widget once the album is available.
Gregor McEwan – Going Solo – My View
Is Going Solo close to a Johnny Cash one? Likely not – it is a Greator McEwan (or Hagen Siems) one. But in that, it is a real beauty. Some some turn the record into an a bit of lengthy listen – but overall, the album works out really well and tells personal stories in an adorable way.
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