Niall Horan displays artistic, lyrical maturity in Flicker

Music artists are in the business of recreation, so Niall Horan’s new mystique should come as no surprise to devout Directioners. The former boy band member released his solo album, Flicker, last Friday, soothing fans and rebranding his teen heartthrob image.

Well, he’s done it. Flicker is a soulful acoustic rendition of what seems to be Horan’s intimate journal, with tracks like “Seeing Blind” and “Paper Houses.”

The former One Direction member is no longer confined to the band’s image as he opens up about love, loss and the reality of growing up. His title track, “Flicker,” perfectly captures his sentiments with the lyrics: “When you feel your love’s been taken / When you know there’s something missing / In the dark barely hanging on / When you rest your head upon my chest / I’m afraid what we had is gone.” Horan later professes the flicker of hope that this love gave to him at the beginning of his relationship, setting a thoughtful tone to the bluesy album.

Horan collaborated with several industry talents including Maren Morris, Jamie Scott, Julian Brunetta and Jacquire King. Those featured on Horan’s tracks complement the gruffness of the album without overpowering his vocals.

Photo from Niall Horan’s music video for “Flicker”

“Flicker” exceeded expectations, as Horan has strategically rebranded himself to be taken “seriously” by his peers. I say this half-heartedly when comparing him to other artists who’ve rebranded themselves over the years, such as Miley Cyrus and Katy Perry.

While Horan doesn’t have everyone in a complete swoon, the artist has done an exceptional job of converting skeptics. Initially, many thought  Horan  and the former One Direction members were going to be confined to producing tween-pop hits for the remainder of their solo careers.

However, Flicker is a great example of the former boy band’s ability to push past their critics’ expectations and mature musically. Although Horan did not come out swinging on a wrecking ball, he took the opportunity to demonstrate off his vocal capabilities. He’s real, honest and relatable, and Flicker proves Horan’s worthiness as a solo artist.

In addition to the deluxe album, Apple Music has released a 30-minute short film with the artist about Flicker. “On the Record”  is packed full of anecdotes and personal stories  from Horan. He shares his view on the album, the time it took to perfect it and the artists he collaborated with. The tracks were recorded live in-studio with a full band, which is an adjustment for Horan. He mentions that it took him a while to become comfortable performing live alongside different instruments, but the experience has helped his craft.

Niall Horan has done his job, sharing a new, more mature side of himself with soothing melodies and heart-wrenching lyrics.