Release Date: Jan 22, 2008
Record label: Yep Roc
Genre(s): Indie, Rock
It's not fair, but when you see an album by a luxuriantly bearded singer-songwriter who is the son of a very famous singer-songwriter, you can't help but think you're in for an album full of breathy hymns and acoustic navel-gazing. So it is with great pleasure that you discover that Liam Finn, son of Neil, is nothing of the sort. A proper wild-eyed oddball of a man (in a good way), Finn writes irresistible songs that hum with riotous melodic invention.
Liam Finn's musical apprenticeship was at the feet of his father, Neil, the acclaimed singer/songwriter behind Crowded House. Finn's teenage band Betchadupa opened for Neil on solo tours in the late '90s, and when Crowded House re-formed in 2007, Liam joined as a touring member. Such close familial connections are not uncommon among Finns -- Neil joined his brother Tim's band Split Enz when he was in his late teens and he soon was on an equal footing with his sibling by his early twenties, roughly the same age Liam was when he released his solo debut, I'll Be Lightning, in 2007 (the record was released in the U.S.
Yes, his dad was in Crowded House and Split Enz, but Liam Finn’s roots go back further than that. Like Badly Drawn Boy or Elliott Smith, his effervescent choruses, swooning harmonies, and heavily layered, my-studio-is-my-bunker production techniques on I’ll Be Lightning are directly traceable to old Paul McCartney solo records. And cut him some slack if the linguistic parts of the equation don’t exactly burn into the brain: As he sings at one point, ”All I know is the music moves my feet.” B+DOWNLOAD THIS: ”Second Chance” .
If your father were Neil Finn (Crowded House, Split Enz), some of that songwriting would probably have rubbed off on you, too. Not that Liam Finn copies his dad, but there are similarities in their obvious love of simple melodies, hooks aplenty, and the Beatles-esque production on I'll Be Lightning, Liam's solo debut. What's striking about this set is that except for some drum parts and Neil playing bass on one tune, Liam's Lightning is bottled in his own one-man band, old-fashioned studio tricks and tape manipulation filling the gaps since he proudly proclaims that no computers were used in the making of the album.