In a previous post on this site I outlined the fact since the unexpected hiatus by the global phenomenon that was One Direction, there was always a sense that the members would be able to forge success careers in the aftermath. But even when the band were still together there seemed to be a belief that, of the five members of the original lineup, Harry Styles would be the one to make the biggest impact as a solo star.
In February 2016, a month after One Direction started their hiatus, Styles would change management (joining Full Stop Management) and would sign a recording contract with Columbia Records as a solo artist, having already been associated with them while with the band. The remainder of 2016 was spent recording his debut album, which would come in 2017, while also co-writing songs such as Someday which he would write with Meighan Trainer to feature on the coming Michael Bublé album, Nobody but Me.
Fans would eventually get their first taste of the direction that Styles’ solo work would take in March 2017 when the debut solo track, Sign of the Times, was released. The song took a lot of people off guard as the soft rock ballad seemed as far away as possible from the sound that One Direction had been known for. The song was generally well received and hinted that there was much to be excited for.
Despite the fact that the follow up single, Two Ghosts, performed somewhat disappointingly compared to the lead single, there was no slump in the level of anticipation that would surround the debut album released on 12 May 2017. The self titled album would be an immediate commercial success, and would even receive numerous positive reviews from music critics. Coming to the album I hadn’t entirely been sure what to expect, but I too was very pleasantly surprised.
The album is ten expertly crafted tracks and it is clear that a lot of love went into everything on the album. The thing that struck me the most was the obvious influences that are clear on different tracks, perhaps most obvious on the track Carolina that has a guitar line very similar to Stuck in the Middle with You by Stealers Wheel.
While the sound and genre that is present on the album is a step away from the One Direction influences, there is still plenty of the heartfelt lyrics about love that were a staple of the 1D sound.
I remain presently surprised and enthused by the direction that Harry Styles has taken since he went on to forge a solo career. He seems to have actively tried to generate his own identity and refused to stick to the formula that made him famous. It remains to be seen will he remain primarily a musician after his cameo in the 2017 historical drama, Dunkirk, was met with critical positivity but if he does it is clear that there is a lot to look forward to.