Born in Cranhill, a tough part of Glasgow, some of Alex McEwan‘s earliest musical influences were from his mother’s love of country music artists such as Glen Campbell and Johnny Cash. He was also strongly influenced by Glasgow bands such as Travis and Del Amitri.
Alex first learned to play guitar when he was 13 years old and his love of music and performance was further developed whilst as a student going to music venues in the city centre.
After working as an engineer he later qualified as a teacher and moved to London to follow his dream and develop his musical career. His passion for this drove him to sing in music clubs such as The Borderline and The Spitz in the evening and busk on the London Underground.
A chance meeting with Brian Wilson collaborator and Joan Jett guitarist Lou Natkin led to Alex travelling to the US, playing in bars in Nashville and LA and later meeting with Lou to make a demo. This resulted in signing to independent label Forge Records to record his debut album ‘Beautiful Lies’.
The album gained critical acclaim and the single ‘Make A Wave’ was a favourite on the BBC Radio 2
playlist, played regularly by Terry Wogan, Jeremy Vine and Steve Wright, who dubbed him “the man with the pork pie hat”. He later performed a “stunning session” on the Janice Long show.
The single also received significant play-listing on all major Scottish and Irish radio stations including both Clyde and RTE 1 and 2,
and throughout the UK on the regional BBC. A nationwide tour supporting Katie Melua followed, playing to 60,000 people across the UK and Ireland, resulting in significant album sales.
Around this time Alex took a break from music, met his future wife, went back to college to complete a masters degree, and then took a day job as a senior manager for one of the world’s largest banks.
Taken from the forthcoming album ‘In A World We Dont Know’ the ‘What Is Love’ E.P. is a beautiful mix of Americana, Scottish Roots, and Indie Singer Songwriter..
Bizarrely enough the initial inspiration for a new album came when he was asked to perform on a cruise ship whilst on holiday, spurred on by the reaction he got from people. The album was mainly written and recorded throughout 2020/21 during ‘lockdown’, whilst living in his country cottage in Kent, largely reliant on online collaborations between musicians in England and the U.S. via Scotland.
There were also some proper studio sessions, including recordings of the lush string sections that feature throughout. Some fine musicians also played on the album including Mumford and Sons Drummer Chris Maas and John Newman guitarist Carlos Garcia. Many of the tracks were co–produced with Graham Noon, long term collaborator with hit songwriter David Martin and currently a member of Tim Vine’s ‘Plastic Elvis’ band. Nashville guitarist Austin Moorhead (Jana Kramer, Carly Pierce) also co–produced a number of songs. The album was mixed by Ian Grimble (Bear’s Den, Travis, Daughter) and mastered by Ted Jensen at Sterling Sound, Nashville.
In May 2023, Alex released ‘Rodeo Star’. The song tells the story of a man whose big ambitions have remained unfulfilled. Instead of the rodeo star of the title, its narrator is a cab driver in the heart of Nashville. While he never lost sight of those dreams, his reality is that they’re unlikely to come true. Yet deep down he knows that is who he really is, regardless of how his life has turned out.
It’s a song which is full of the yearning, nostalgic and world-weary qualities that make Alex McEwan such an engaging writer. Those aspects are also delivered with the grainy, dusky soul of his vocal, beautifully plaintive slide guitar, and lyrical references to advice passed down the generations plus a fleeting fictional cameo from Johnny Cash
‘Rodeo Star’ was written by Alex, who co-produced the track with Lou Natkin (Brian Wilson, Joan Jett), with mixing courtesy of Ian Grimble (Bear’s Den, Mumford & Sons, Daughter). It also features backing vocals from Anthony Clark (Elton John, Rick Astley, Eva Cassidy) as well a drums from Paul Winter-Hart of Kula Shaker.
From busker to banker to rediscovering his musical soul, the new album from Alex McEwan, ‘In a World We Don’t Know’, is due for release in 2023.
“Alex did a stunning session on my show…a gifted singer songwriter.”
Janice Long (BBC Radio 2)
“His voice, a confident, flexible and powerful instrument, is his strongest card, investing every word he sings with the kind of conviction that’s required when handing out pearls of hard won wisdom.”
Johnny Black (MOJO)
“Alex McEwan could be the next big Scottish rock act”
Billy Sloan (Scottish Sunday Mail)
“A homegrown talent, Alex McEwan has had an exciting career so far and has rightfully received the backing of such high profile industry folk as BBC’s Janice Long. This latest offering, the five-track ‘What Is Love’ EP, continues that momentum and sees McEwan rediscover his talents. Opening with the title track, McEwan asks the big question and after an atmospheric introduction, the mood changes and we hear a driving acoustic guitar. When the chorus hits the song really opens out and we hear McEwan’s strong, clear vocals belting out these sustained notes. Lyrically he tells these relatable stories throughout the EP that are well thought out. ‘In A World We Don’t Know’ is my favourite song of McEwan’s, the strings and backing vocals at the end of the chorus really bring it to life as the song continues to build throughout. The production throughout is fantastic. This is part of a bigger album project, set to be released early next year, and we look forward to what McEwan does next.”
Zoe Hodges (Maverick)