This somber and reflective track was the first song written by Niall Horan for his debut solo album after he'd spent some time backpacking around Southeast Asia. Niall became the first current member of One Direction to release a solo single when he released the tune on September 29, 2016.
Niall penned the song with regular One Direction songwriter Jamie Scott in February 2016. Speaking to Westwood One's Zach Sang Show, he said the familiar pairing made his transition back into songwriting "easy."
The acoustic love song finds Niall serenading both his hometown and old flame. He explained the track's double meaning. "To me the way I look at it, if you're from a small town you'll get this, every time you go back to your hometown you'll see this girl in the bar, or wherever, and then everything comes back to you," he said. "And then the other part of it is the town itself no matter whatever you do whenever you live, when you go home, everything comes back to the town. That's the way I kind of wrote it, as a double meaning."
Niall Horan recorded the song in Capitol's Studio A. The Los Angeles studio has hosted many iconic names through the years from Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole to The Beach Boys and Sam Smith. Niall was thrilled to be able to use Sinatra's old microphone while singing.
"Anyone who knows me knows I'm a huge swing fan and a huge Frank Sinatra fan," he said in a behind-the-scenes video. "I have photos of him all over my house, so to be in that studio - some of the most famous pictures of Frank Sinatra have been taken in that studio - it had a real aura about it."
Niall Horan made his debut TV performance as a solo artist when he performed this song on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon on December 13, 2016.
Niall Horan recalled the story of the song in a video:
"It was one of the first songs that I'd written. I wasn't trying to write big choruses and stuff like that, I was trying to write stuff that suited me. The title came before anything it was like this town and what my hometown effectively what it means to me and there are a lot of people who can relate to it because it's such a writeable song. If you come from a small town you get that straight away, it's like, every time you go home people are coming in from all over the world and you walk into the bar and it's like there is the girl you fell for when you were 12."
Niall Horan was caught off guard by how the song was received. "I just released ['This Town'] to let people know that I was still doing something and it was the best of the bunch of songs I had at the time because I had only written a few at the time," he told Carson Daly on 97.1 AMP Radio. "And I just thought I'd release it and then it kind of took on a life of its own."