Album Review: Liam Gallagher – Why Me? Why Not.

By Live4ever - Posted on 10 Sep 2019 at 6:48am



Confident though he is, one suspects that even Liam Gallagher was taken aback by the success of his debut solo album As You Were.

Both exciting and solid, the platinum selling album successfully played to his strengths, equally divided between plaintive ballads and classic rock and roll. The success that followed through big gigs, copious radio play and entertaining interviews made the UK fall in love with Liam all over again. But how best to follow that up?

The novelty of his return has worn off, so now it’s got to be about the songs. As a minimum he has to consolidate. You won’t be surprised to learn that he’s generally playing it safe, but he’s now confident enough to tinker with the winning formula.

Comeback single Shockwave is familiar territory though. It’s giddy glam rock that’s designed to play to his strengths with a verse cribbed from Spread Your Love by Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. A mighty chorus, a sneering middle eight (‘you’re a snake, you’re a weasel’ – wonder who that’s directed at?) and the overall message, ‘I’m back’.

One Of Us pushes the boat out further, even if it’s just to the other side of the quay; the dramatic strings are reminiscent of Richard Ashcroft, accompanying a groovy bassline that channels Ian Brown, topped off with an earworm of a chorus. Having similar demographics, it’s a wise move and it’s possibly the best thing he’s put his name to in the last decade. The compulsory big ballad follows, Once being a little too on-the-nose Lennon-esque. Trite rhyming couplets don’t distract from the inherent beauty of the song, although we have been here many times before.

As It Was (the documentary film) revealed Liam Gallagher to be the conductor of his previous album. Presuming they followed the same format for Why Me? Why Not. (and why wouldn’t they), then Gallagher has more ideas than he’s given credit for. Equally, as controversial as it is, the beauty of working with professional musicians is that their proficiency adds flavour. The title-track is pure White Album, apt given its source material (the album being named after a pair of Lennon paintings), while Meadow is all distorted vocals and dry acoustic guitars, but goes leftfield as it progresses before culminating with what sounds like a spaceship landing. We even get a boisterous spoken-word section at the end of Gone.

A breezy freedom inhabits the album: Now That I’ve Found You is a message to his formerly estranged daughter Molly who re-entered his life a few years ago. It manages to combine Semisonic with Status Quo, which is probably not something you thought you wanted but is a pleasant surprise. Elsewhere, Alright Now skips everywhere melodically with a jaunty bridge and a Harrison solo as played by David Gilmour. It’s got no discernible chorus but that works in its favour.

Halo is the spiritual brother of Beady Eye’s Bring The Light, driving honky tonk piano and a whistling breakdown which successfully masks some more lyrical clangers. The River rectifies this; a marauding beast taking the modern world to task (‘the device in your hand masks your beauty’).

It goes without saying that, as good as these songs are, it’s Gallagher’s voice that makes some of them transcendent. At certain points he goes full falsetto, and his talent for perfectly pitching his vocals to compliment the music continues to be his greatest strength.

He’s stated on record that he intends to take a break once this album has been toured, and indeed Gone has a tone that matches the lyrics in saying ta-ta for now. He’ll be departing on good terms.

Gallagher knows his job is to move hearts and souls, and this album is possibly the most uplifting of the year.

8/10

(Richard Bowes)



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