I'll Be Lightning...confusion

When IBL first came out I didn't buy it because I didn't like the few promos that I'd heard at the time. But last week it was available for just over £2 so I couldn't resist.

Now I'm confused...

On one hand, I absolutely love the songs. One after another they hit you with catchy melodies, often in the first couple of lines (for example Better To Be, Second Chance, Remember When etc).

On the other hand, I don't much like Liam's voice. Sometimes he sounds out of key, but I could live with that if only his voice was distinctive and interesting in its tone. There are lots of examples of singers who haven't got the greatest classical voices, but sound great because of their unique tone. Think Elton John or Madonna; or closer to home, Liam's Dad.

So top marks for Liam's songwriting and musical ability, the guy's a real talent. But I just wonder how great these songs could sound with his Dad or Uncle singing them ?
Original Post
Well, I do like Liam's singing (certainly better than Madonna's, especially in the early years when she'd jump between the fake, cutesie upper range and the forced, throaty lower range). I didn't notice him being off key and do think his voice is distinctive.

I think whether the overall tone or quality of a singing voice appeals to us will bias how harshly we judge its imperfections. Since I love the sound of Neil's voice, I forgive him a lot. He's certainly not perfect, and has even made me cringe on occasion, such as when his usually tingle-inducing falsetto fails him. Maybe since I like Liam's voice, I didn't notice the imperfections.


I'll Be Lightening is a great album. Maybe his voice will grow on you. I had to give Steven Page's voice time to grow on me so I could appreciate his half (the better half) of the Barenaked Ladies catalogue. Now it's hard for me to imagine why I never liked it, other than knowing I tend to dislike that type of singing voice....Ron Sexsmith has that same kind of voice and I'm only just getting over my intense dislike for his too.
I find Liam's voice sometimes quite similar to Neil's and that's what I like about it. In fact, once when I was driving a friend in my car and listening to 7WCII Red Wine Bottle came on and my friend said something indicating she had mistaken it for a Neil Finn song. When I told her it was his kid she didn't believe me.
Speaking of Red Wine Bottle. Neil did a promotional tour of various US radio stations for the 7WCII CD. At one of the radio stations, sorry can't remember which one but I will post if I can find it, Neil actually sang it and I remember thinking how freaky it was that he sounded so much like Liam when singing it.
At his best (Cold Feet, Gather to the Chapel, Lead Balloon, Fire in Your Belly, Energy Spent Neurotic World, Wise Men, Music My Feet, I'll be Lightning) Liam has penned songs that are arguably as good or better than his Dad has written since Try Whistling This and a few on Everyone is Here.

As a recording Cold Feet is the best Finn recording since Together Alone

FOMO is incredibly disjointed, but often brilliant.

What may be a concern is the way Liam doubles his voice out of phase, but the harmonies are superb.

In fact, I'd argue that Liam's songwriting has strongly influenced Neil's on Pajama Club and Isolation from Intriguer
Agreed Doctor Mu. In fact I started by saying that I loved the songs - I've no doubt Liam is a brilliant songwriter. My problem is that his voice sounds ordinary and uninteresting, and that is the essence of my confusion - brilliant songs but mediocre voice...
I'm another who was unimpressed by Liam's vocal performance on I'll Be Lightning (though Runner, I echo your admiration for the songcraft). I think his singing is much better on Fomo. I was thinking he must be growing into his voice, or whatever. Just learning to use it use it.
I actually really like Liam's voice on both albums. It's a 'singer/songwriter' voice, which is something I tend to prefer to trained professional vocal 'interpreters'.

And, to be fair, it does sound familiar at times, like pulling on an old sock ... his double tracking often sounds to me like his father harmonising with his uncle. Gotta love genetics Smiler

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