Rhona Macfarlane - Closing the Window (EP)

November 15, 2021

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I recently wrote about Rhona Macfarlane upon releasing her single No Rain” last month, and was totally blown away by her talent, and raw appeal. I’ve been anticipating the release of Macfarlane’s new EP, “Closing the Window” (Released last Friday), and the reality does not disappoint. Each song on her EP is a conversation and a small window into how she approaches songwriting. Rhona’s lyrics are soulful and empathetic, and her vocals unmistakably signature, with her subtle vibrato and Scottish influences. I had the chance to speak with Rhona about how she’s feeling now that her EP is available to the world: "of course excited, proud and grateful that I managed to get to this point of sharing the songs after a long year of working on them. I also feel relieved as releasing music independently as a solo artist can be isolating at times and a lot of work … I also felt quite overwhelmed last night with emotion. You can get very attached to the project, especially when it is such a big process of writing, recording and working with new people. It becomes a focus for you and when you have to let it go it can be scary thinking of what you’re going to do next. These songs also signify a part of my life with special memories so it’s special being able to finally share these stories and I hope they can mean something to others. I am really moved by all the lovely feedback so far.” The EP includes four new songs, all of which hold their own, and yet blend beautifully as a collection.

Better When You’re Around” is light and passionate. Rhona’s poetry is subtle - and never on the nose. She paints a scene with her lyrics and her music supports the emotional context: “Lying on a park bench in the sun. And we’ll be content, just watching the world roll by. And the kids running wild and everything’s so disordered. In such a beautiful day. It’s such a beautiful day.” Perhaps it’s Rhona’s unique vocality, the 12-string guitar smoothly played across the neck, or the piano melodies that float gently in like the wind on a sunny day. But the sentiment is just so honest and sincere - you can’t help but fall in love a little. I can’t help but say this is my new favorite (except for the fact that her other tunes are just as amazing).

No Rain” (Featured in Artist Pick) also strikes me as a love song, but from a very different perspective - at the end of a loved one’s life. We often say the words, “till death do us part”. But do we really think of the time to come? Rhona expresses it honestly, and gently. The words “At least there’s no rain outside” were expressed in passing to Rhona by someone whose life partner had just passed. It is a powerful reminder of how we all must face adversity, and yet the sun will continue to shine, and we will still be reminded of those we love and lose in the little things we see every day.

Black Wall” is about the inner turmoil experienced after a loss. It’s haunting message is contrasted by resolve: “I will win this fight, and I won’t lose my sight”. Rhona was on the Isle of Harris in the Hebrides when she wrote the song. “The landscape has a lot of memories for me as my family were from there and I spent a lot of time there as a child. There is something spiritual about Harris, the wildness of the landscape, the battering winds and fresh air that I feel would give hope to someone, comfort them and help them come to terms and move on from loss. This landscape also gave me inspiration for the string arrangement as I wanted to create an image of the landscape with the soundscape.” Rhona is a remarkable violinist in her own right, having studied violin at The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow, played at the BBC Proms, China with NYOS (national youth orchestra Scotland) and also worked as an ambassador with Nicola Benedetti for the Benedetti sessions.

The final and title track, “Closing the Window” reflects the inner struggle of letting go of part of your life and accepting what lies ahead. “I was reading Carol Ann Duffy Poetry at the time and was inspired by the poem ‘empty nest’. I thought a lot about parents and the bravery they have in holding back their emotions to protect their children, not to hold them back and to let them go and grow up.” Rhona describes this album as a transition from student to adulthood. This track represents, in part, that transition. “It’s crazy thinking back to this time last year when we were in the thick of winter and in a pandemic. I had just graduated from studying at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and I had no idea what I was going to do next (especially when the arts was shutting down due to covid.) However, I decided to start writing again and began the process of the EP began. I got to work with a producer for the first time who I really admire ‘Matt Ingram’ and some amazing musicians. Looking back to the starting process of the EP and looking at where I am now (not to be too cheesy) but I feel like a totally different person and it has been quite a journey for me. I have grown and learnt so much from the process. At times during the process, I felt doubtful and unsure whether I would finish the EP but now that I have I couldn’t be prouder of the result. I am truly grateful to everyone who helped support this project.

I asked Rhona about her plans now that the release is done. “I am supporting Dougie Maclean who wrote the famous song ‘Caledonia’ at Bearsden Baljaffray Parish Church on the 3rd of December and this week The Afternoon Show at BBC Radio Scotland are interviewing me and making ‘Better When You’re Around’ their single of the week and will play it everyday this week which is such an honor! Going forward I want to push myself to keep writing and growing as an artist. I still feel like I have a lot to discover as a writer/musician and want to take some time to develop my sound and writing. I hope to write an album also. Gig wise I will be applying for festivals so hope to be playing some in the summer and to get the music out there as much as I can now gigs are opened up.

At a little less than a quarter-century old - Rhona is already a truly inspirational songwriter and performer. I (for one) plan to follow her career for many years to come. Truly one of my favorite Indie Artists I’ve had the privilege to come to know over this past year. If you haven’t already done so, please follow Rhona MacFarlane by clicking the green button above, and be sure to listen to her other great songs on Spotify. You will also enjoy her studio video “Better When You’re Around”, so check it out below and give her a subscribe!

Also be sure to check out “Fresh Indie" and "Artist Pick" Spotify playlists to support Rhona and our other great artists, and make sure you follow the playlists below to discover incredible new music every day.

Written by Joe.


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