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As we continue on our own journeys in life, there’s always that point when we feel like we’re almost there. Albeit there are bumps and struggles along the way, we can still count our wins no matter the size. This is the case for singer and songwriter, Ian McFarland who’s been working hard on writing what he really wants to share with the world one step at a time through the songs from his brand new album, Almost There

Highlight track “Plus One to Heaven” is all about letting go of the things you can’t control and focusing on what you can. Being in the works since 2019 and finally expressed in a wonderfully upbeat song that speaks from the heart, Ian shares how the song can be an ideal choice for any mood. It may have that feel-good beat but it can also give a deeper perspective because of the well-thought-out lyrics like “if this place does really exist my universe got off track.”

McFarland explains how “Plus One to Heaven” is both similar and set apart at the same time from his other songs off Almost There. It became sort of a representation of the changes he experienced on the journey of writing the song along with the rest of the effort.

“This song went through many emotional rewrites, at one point I was convinced the way to record this was with a big-bodied acoustic guitar and a single vocal and just have it be super raw and emotive,” McFarland says of the process. Sure it was tough, but he’s glad that he pursued the recording in order to add the track to an album that’s a work in progress.

Congratulations on the song, it’s wonderful! Can you tell me what inspired you to write “Plus One to Heaven”?

“Plus One to Heaven” was just a clever line that came out of years of reworking sort of introspective philosophical verses. The whole concept is sort of this universe is out of my control anti-manifest destiny piece, my favorite lines are things like “if this place does really exist my universe got off track” which is calling into question heaven or “some cracks were meant to be stepped on” which is a playful reworking of “step on a crack break your mothers back.” I think I’ve been working on that one since 2019 when it was much slower and more of a dirge than a pop rock song.

I’ve seen and listened to the songs from your new album, Almost There. Congratulations on that as well! Can you describe the theme of this album and tell us the story behind its artwork?

The artwork was commissioned by Trippie Steff from Germany. I’ve been following Trippie Steff on social media and just liked the style enough to commission a graphic headshot. I think the album artwork is some of the best I’ve had between my one EP and previous full length. The name “Almost There” comes from how I’m feeling like this collection of songs is just another step towards writing what I’m really meant to write.

The whole concept is sort of this universe is out of my control anti-manifest destiny piece.

Ian McFarland

With the release of “Plus One to Heaven” along with the album, what message would you like to say to listeners?

The message for the whole release is kind of just a tip of the hat to the mantra FIDLAR or YOLO. Each song kind of takes on that sort of one ride only mentality in the sense that most of the songs have messages of change or like, new paths opening up for better or worse. For example in “Love Lines” or “Longboarding in my Slipper to the Convenience Store” the message is the same sort of moving on mentality but different than “Sip of Sunshine” or “Start it Up” or “Plus One to Heaven” which are all a lot more positive.

The music video is so entertaining! It really featured how much fun you had while singing the song. Can you describe what you mean by “Rhymings for rascals. Poetries a passion” from the lyrics?

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Those two lines are a reflection on the songwriting process and how so many great lyrics rhyme and the rhyme scheme really adds to the experience of listening to them. In the end, the choice to leave it in the song and not swap it out for one of the other lines I wrote for that section of the song was just the way it rolled off my tongue very easily.

Each song kind of takes on that sort of one ride only mentality in the sense that most of the songs have messages of change or like new paths opening up for better or worse.

Ian McFarland

What was your headspace while writing the song?

Like I said this song went through many emotional rewrites, at one point I was convinced the way to record this was with a big-bodied acoustic guitar and a single vocal and just have it be super raw and emotive. I will say I’m glad I went with the upbeat version of the track but I’m also interested in making mellow versions of some of my songs, specifically “Reckless Behavior”.

Can you describe your favorite part of the song? Whether it’s a lyric or a scene in the music video and why?

My favorite line from “Plus One to Heaven” changes with my mood, if I’m feeling down it’s probably the line about my universe not lining up properly. If I’m in a mood to show off my art I’m really proud of the title of the song because it’s a unique concept that hasn’t been explored a lot in popular music. 

Have you been on tour before? If you have, what was your favorite part about it? If you haven’t, where would the first place you’d go to tour?

I’ve been on tour a handful of times with different bands that I was a member of. All were a blast and I think crazily enough some of the best parts were just hanging in the car and jamming to tunes. The bigger shows are always highlights too, kind of like the way streaming has tent pole days; the shows with bigger stages and audiences always get me real hyped. For real I just love performing though if the band is tight.

If I’m feeling down it’s probably the line about my universe not lining up properly. If I’m in a mood to show off my art I’m really proud of the title of the song because it’s a unique concept that hasn’t been explored a lot in popular music. 

Ian McFarland

I’ve read from your Songkick profile that you’re not on tour this year. Can you share some upcoming plans as the rest of the year goes by?

I’d love to get out on tour, I’ve pushed “Sip of Sunshine” to Lawson’s Finest Liquids and I can see a northeast regional tour as a possibility but with my current draw, I think the best thing that could happen for me would be for a larger band to request me to open for them.

Watch the music video for “Plus One to Heaven” below and check out more of his songs from Almost There.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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