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I'll Be Lightning

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Album Review

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. in early 2008). I'll Be Lightning finds Liam coming into his own as a singer/songwriter not unlike how Neil did around the time of True Colours, a remarkable parallel in musical development that, when combined with the passing similarity in their songwriting styles, can perhaps tie Liam a little too closely to his father. Like his dad, Liam has an ear for hooks and a predilection for melodic craft, but he is not only his own man, he is certainly the product of his own generation, raised on classic pop dating back to the Beatles but obsessed with indie singer/songwriters of the '90s, specifically Elliott Smith. I'll Be Lightning has the same spare, dreamy qualities of Smith's music, but Liam Finn isn't as haunted as Smith, even if he has a similar knack for floating melodies. Despite a fair share of brokenhearted ballads here, this isn't an overly melancholy album; it can be comforting in its spells of sadness, partially because they're balanced by lighter material that meshes with the slower, sadder songs to give this depth, a richness in lyric and music uncommon to young singer/songwriters. The arrangements are slyly inventive, too: "Bottle It Up" gains considerable propulsion from its blaring bass, "Second Chance" has a tapestry of skittering drum loops and gentle harmonies, and even the straight-ahead driving pop tune "Lead Balloon" is percolating with ideas beneath its undeniable hooks. These little details are revealed upon repeated plays, but what really gains hold upon those subsequent revisits to I'll Be Lightning is the strength of Liam Finn's songwriting, as the 14 songs here seem stronger upon each listen, with the songs soon seeming indelible. This kind of gift is rare, but it has been passed on from father to son in a way that is similar yet quite different and equally valuable, as this excellent debut makes plain.

Customer Reviews

my first impression

this is a great album, very light and airy with a little upbeat rythm thrown in the mix. has tones of the beatles meets crowded house meets jeff buckley. well worth adding to you collectoin if your into any of those bands and similar.

yay, more Finn family talent!!

this thoughtfully written fisrt solo album from liam finn has blown me away! every song is beautiful and catchy. Went and saw liam live last week in Christchuch at St Michaels and All Angels church and he does not disappoint!

Like father, like son

Liam sounds remarkably like his father in voice, and also has the same knack of writing very catchy tunes. I didn't fall in love with this album at first listen, but I noticed I was still humming the hooks the next day! I've decided though there are some Real Weak Songs, the fact there are 19 of them on the album makes up for them. Liam sings, plays nearly all the instruments on all the tracks, mixes and produces 'Lightning' and I think some other people being involved would have been good, giving more variety in the sound and ambiance.


Born: 24 September 1983 in Melbourne, Australia

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '00s, '10s

The son of Crowded House and Split Enz frontman Neil Finn, Liam Finn succeeded in making a name for himself, first as the teenage frontman of the quirky rock band Betchadupa and, several years later, as a talented solo artist in his own right. Formed after he met bandmate Matt Eccles during a beach holiday with his family, Betchadupa recorded two EPs and two albums -- The Alphabetchadupa in 2002 and Aiming for Your Head in 2004 -- before taking an informal break, with Finn returning to New Zealand...
Full Bio
I'll Be Lightning, Liam Finn
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Customer Ratings