LOCKDOWN certainly had its challenges, especially in Spain where for six weeks everyone was confined to their homes allowed out only for essentials.
But for one expat Brit holed up with his family in the pretty whitewashed town of Gaucin in the Serrania de Ronda, it was an opportunity.
Usually working in hospitality and tourism, the coronavirus pandemic meant that, like almost everyone else bar health workers, he had a lot of time on hands, so he returned to an abandoned passion from his youth: music.
Originally from Oban in Scotland, Armstrong’s early life was filled with music.
A chorister from a young age, he won a music scholarship to his senior school where he learned many instruments.
While at university at St Andrews he played and recorded original music in various bands, rubbing shoulders with the then up and coming KT Tunstall and King Creosote.
But a career working in hospitality and raising a young family meant neglecting his musical talents, until he moved to Gaucin six years ago and discovered it was home to a vibrant expat and local music scene.
Lockdown then gave Armstrong all the time he needed to resurrect his musical career, and sharing a name with a famous astronaut has certainly helped.
This week (September 22) Armstrong releases his second album ‘Finding A Way Home’ as a follow-up to his 2020 lockdown release ‘Nearly Life’.
His brand of original Indie Rock music has won critical acclaim and the new album
explores themes of darkness and light and the journey homewards.
Two singles from “Finding A Way Home” were released this summer to critical acclaim from industry blogs.
Rock anthem “One Small Step” was hailed as “Better than ever – incredibly powerful” while the piano ballad “Moon” is described as “A hit with fans of Elton John, Bowie and ELO”.
Armstrong’s music is listed online amongst the astronaut’s famous moon landing speech. “When I realised that I was sharing an artist profile with the astronaut, my heart sank,” he revealed to The Olive Press.
“However, I soon realised that it is a blessing as thousands of people around the world find my music every month because of him.”
The pandemic has made playing live difficult, but this summer Armstrong enjoyed playing his music at festivals and local venues once again.
“My music has been generously received by both expat and local fans who appreciate my work with Jose Maria whom they all recognise. It’s a joy to get out and play live. I hope that this freedom will endure.”
He is referring to legendary Andalucian rock guitarist and producer Jose Maria Sagrista with whom he worked on the album along with local musicians Marcus Myers, guitarist (Hard Rain London / Alicia’s Attic) and Misty Oldland (Supernatural / Forest Soul).
The music, which Armstrong has composed, arranged and performed, is set to the lyrics of co-producer David Will Mitchell.
The pair met for the first time in Spain in late 2019 and embarked on a creative partnership which saw the duo produce and release their first album within nine months, even though the creative pair only met twice face-to-face.
“The second album really just burst out of us. The writing process with David has always been fruitful” said Armstrong.
Listen to the new album ‘Finding a way home’ or find Neil Armstrong’s music HERE.