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Recorded with a mixing deck that once belonged to The Who, I'll Be Lightning melds Elliott Smith-style melodies with loosey-goosey execution and the big, airy harmonies of yacht rock. Finn plays every instrument on the album - and during live shows. Triggering loops he creates via pedals, he'll riff on guitar, go nuts on theramin and pummel a drum kit for a one-man-band extravaganza.
'The aesthetic is DIY, leaving the woolly edges', he explains. --Rolling Stone - The Artists and Bands who are bringing the future of music, today.
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. 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. --All Music Guide
Liam Finn, the son of singer-songwriter Neil Finn, wanted to go low-tech for his first solo recording, 'I'll Be Lightning'. He played most of the instruments himself, and recorded it on old-fashioned analog tape, mixed on a desk that once belonged to The Who. 'I wanted to recreate the demo style of recording where you are just on your own in a room and you get lost in your imagination,' Mr. Finn, 24, says. He recorded the album in a building his father turned into a studio. His father played in the 1970s-'80s group Split Enz and founded the '80s pop trio Crowded House.
Liam Finn's album has a spare, melodic sound, with many of the songs addressing relationships and life lessons in an allusive way. The new release has drawn early praise, with Paste magazine calling it 'a dazzling solo debut.' Mr. Finn, who lives in New Zealand, will tour the U.S. for almost a year beginning next month. For his live performances, he will be accompanied by a backup singer, while he himself plays guitar, bass, drums and theremin, an electronic instrument. 'It's a swelling, raucous noise,' Mr. Finn says. 'It's quite punk in spirit.' --The Wall Street Journal