Alex McEwan is songwriter of rare and special skills, an Americana-channelling Scotsman with a warm, enriching voice and a deft way with a lyric that cuts straight to the heart. His recent single ‘In A World We Don’t Know’ attracted praise from the Americana community, leading to almost half a million streams to date - an achievement all the more remarkable as Alex hadn’t released new music in over sixteen years.
Making the most of his unexpected resurgence, Alex today shares the new single ‘Hold Your Hands Out To Me’ and announces the September 28th release of the ‘In A World We Don’t Know’ album.
‘Hold Your Hands Out To Me’ shows why Alex’s music has touched a growing community of listeners. His voice is tender, soulful and weathered by experience, while his words resonate with the optimism that a personal connection, whether it’s through a relationship, family or a friendship, can help make life’s challenges a little more manageable. Finding the common ground between Americana and indie-folk, the accomplishment behind his songcraft is immediately striking - but that’s a story we’ll explore shortly.
Alex says, “This song is very much my ‘I belong to Glasgow’ moment, inspired by Frankie Miller’s Caledonia and a deep longing for home and past memories during the lockdown period!”
Written solely by Alex, he also produced ‘Hold Your Hands Out To Me’ with Graham Noon. The song was completed with accordion from Alan Dunn (Loudon Wainwright, Richard Thompson), mixing by Ian Grimble (Bear’s Den, Travis, Mumford & Sons), and mastering courtesy of the legendary, multiple Grammy Award winner Ted Jensen (The Eagles, Florence + The Machine, The Rolling Stones).
Growing up in Glasgow, Alex absorbed the sounds of artists as varied as Johnny Cash, Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen, R.E.M. and local heroes Del Amitri. When he headed south to work as an engineer and a teacher, music remained the backbeat of his life - a regular fixture at the 12 Bar Club and The Borderline in-between busking sessions on the London Underground. A record company executive advised Alex to try his luck in Nashville, so he pooled as much money as he could (primarily his proceeds from busking) to spend a month in Music City. A chance encounter with guitarist, songwriter and producer Lou Maxfield (Brian Wilson, Joan Jett, The Monkees) resulted in the pair recording a demo, which led to the release of Alex’s debut album ‘Beautiful Lies’.
Back in the UK, things started to take-off. In 2005, the single ‘Make A Wave’ became a playlisted airplay hit on Radio 2, with support from DJs including Jeremy Vine. Alex subsequently toured the UK and Ireland as guest to Katie Melua, playing to a total of 60,000 people. But juggling the demands of life made a longer-term career in music impossible. He completed a master’s degree before embarking upon a successful career in the world of finance. His sojourn in music was one from a past life: a happy memory, a barely believable story to share with his colleagues. Or so he thought…
In 2019, Alex and his wife were enjoying a cruise in the Caribbean. Late one night in the bar, the mic was opened up and Alex stepped on stage to perform ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ - the same song he had first learned to play on guitar all those years ago. The reaction was phenomenal, but Alex put it down to high holiday spirits and alcohol-fuelled enthusiasm. But the next day random strangers were still stopping him to rave about his performance.
It was a moment that inspired Alex to start again, to answer the nagging thought that he had unfinished business in music. The couple moved to the Kent countryside and Alex would spend late lockdown nights alone in the kitchen writing songs. And when the album was ready, his mind focused on how to take it to an audience entirely from his own efforts and financing. It’s a story of remarkable perseverance, dedication and commitment.
Alex concludes, “What do I think when I look at the album? A sense of achievement. I’ve put 10 songs together that mean everything to me. I get hundreds, thousands of people sending me messages on social media, saying how I’ve touched their hearts. That still blows my mind. And that’s what fires and inspires me as a songwriter. So if the album can mean something to some people, that will just be amazing. Every single connection I make with one of my songs is priceless.”