Markus Feehily - Only You / Love Me or Leave Me Alone
Pre-order Markus Feehily's debut album Fire here (Markus' official site)
Stream Love Me Or Leave Me Alone here (BBC Radio 2 - until 25th October 2015)
I always think you have to be a little bit selfless and a little bit clever to be in a successful boy band. As one of a group you have to put aside many of your own musical endeavours to focus on what is best for the group. Yet as time pushes on and if you are lucky enough to be in one of the most successful boy bands of all time, you need to be creatively clever enough to start putting your own stamp on the music, whilst still adhering to the sound aesthetic the band is known for. It's a balancing act Markus Feehily pulled off brilliantly in Westlife. He was an integral part of what made the group so appealing to millions of fans, yet ably demonstrated his solo abilities as part of that group (check out solo vocal moments such as Moon River and Talk Me Down plus writing credits on songs like Reach Out, I Will Reach You and Before It's Too Late). Taking time to breathe after the group disbanded has served the talented Mr Feehily well - his solo music feels like an organic growth that has taken him (and the listener) to beautifully expressive and melodic new places. I'm already completely smitten with his singles Love Is A Drug and Butterfly so was delighted to listen to two more tracks this weekend that will feature on his eagerly anticipated debut album Fire.
Only You is an "instant grat" track that you get for pre-ordering said album (see link above). It's co-penned with the incomparable Steve Anderson and Tinashe Fazakerley and is an achingly nuanced ballad that is the perfect setting for Markus' resonant vocal style. He flawlessly captures that moment of stark realisation that we all have, when something so obvious comes to the forefront of our internal comprehension and leaves you gasping for air. It's that still yet dramatic moment that the song's composers have exquisitely recreated - Markus' voice is full of melancholic remorse as he's accompanied by a fragile, lilting piano melody during the first verse and chorus. As the percussion drops at the start of the second verse it's as if Markus is gaining courage and strength by learning from the past with the music buoying up his resolve to follow his heart. There's a moment (at around the 1m30s mark) where the music fades and gloriously textured voices dominate the song for just a few seconds - it's a brief moment but so powerfully done it impacts the listener for the rest of the tune. Such a gifted performer is Markus that although he sings the exact same words in the second chorus it sounds much more hopeful and optimistic than the pensive reflection we previously heard. It's an elegant piece that builds with a conviction that leaves the listener in no doubt of the emotional gamut that Markus has been through. There aren't enough songs like this on the radio, truly timeless classics that leave you drained yet satiated at the same time. Gorgeous...
...and if you were listening to the wireless this weekend you most likely heard Graham Norton spin another song entitled Love Me or Leave Me Alone (again co-penned with Steve Anderson and this time Benedict from the excellent XandY Band). It's a lighter sound that Only You but still has the anguish and pain that he so flawlessly conveys. It starts with a more emphatic piano riff with gently swirling strings playing like mist coming in from across the moors. The propulsive drum beat powers the song forward and is an equal companion to Markus' determined vocal as he sings of the need to have clarification in his relationship. His "love me or leave me alone" at the end of the first chorus (particularly how he sings those last 3 words) evidences his desire to be truly wanted and not just some casual fling - and it then merges into this exhilarating crescendo of music and vocal that leaves the listener in no doubt that there is a fire building inside Markus that can't be quenched. It works brilliantly for the song but is also indicative of his solo career - he's doing it his way and he's drawing energy from the experience that ensures there is only positivity in his life moving forward. Startlingly magnificent - Fire is shaping up to be one of THE albums of the year.