If ‘making your mark is what living is for’ then Alan Finlan has certainly done that with his debut EP Big Man, Small Town. With classic country tropes emerging in the lyrics to songs that have a contemporary honky-tonk feel, Finlan certainly announces himself as a major player on the UK scene.
I immediately put him down as ‘one-to-watch’ during Buckle & Boots recent online festival, and this new record exemplifies why. I don’t think I am going too far in making a comparison with Luke Combs, though the power and grit in Finlan’s vocal is much softer, expressing an element of pop that gives the EP a distinctly British feel. This means that, aside from the more straight-up country of ‘Cowboy Truth’ and ‘No Money By Monday’, Finlan is able to draw on his English roots to bring a folk-tinged sound to ‘Battle of the Bands’ and ‘Making Your Mark’. The former sees a collaboration with Emma Jade, whose lightness of touch helps create a melancholic atmosphere that is both in keeping with the song’s narrative yet belies the expectation of its title.
Meanwhile, the latter is a proper traditional folk tune given a contemporary twist through the addition of electric guitars, and is by far the standout track on an EP that is surely one of the best in 2020 so far.
Review by Gaz Williams