I don’t know much about Billy Liar, but Red Scare has rarely turned out a bad release so I picked Some Legacy out of the pile with some hope -- and it delivers. Liar is a Scottish musician who has been playing under the moniker since 2006. Sometimes he tours solo, sometimes with a band.
On Some Legacy there are shades of solo musicians like Billy Bragg or Frank Turner (perhaps I just think that way because of the solo, sociopolitical bent along with a UK accent) but on this record Billy Liar is a full band with a variety of tempos. It’s not strictly folk music, as listening reminds me of groups such as The Smith Street Band and labelmates Sincere Engineer as well. When Liar slows it down I hear more Turner influence; I hear Bragg in the politics, though it blends more of a first-person perspective that recalls the other two groups I just named. The record is probably a 70/30 split between full band punk-infused rock and solo balladry.
“Change” was the first single off the record and it’s a firestorm – one of those songs that hooks you fast, making it hard for the rest of the record to keep up. It’s a true love song about music, passion, and punk rock. It almost feels too fast as it flies by, playing folk chords at punk speed with a full band as Liar proclaims, “I want to be inspired/ I want to see something change.”
While I just said the rest of the record can’t keep up with “Change,” that’s not meant in a bad way. It’s just one of those songs that screams “single” and stands out from the pack, destined for mixtapes and the like. Other songs follow a similar vein, with “The Righteous & The Rats” giving it a run for its money as far as personal-political heartwarming protest songs go. It’s also reflective of the overall tone of Liar’s creation: it’s political but it’s simultaneously personal throughout. As the tempo picks up it seems to get more expansive, while the ballads feel more reflective and introspective. Some Legacy is a record meant to be turned up and sung along to. While it might bare a solo-type title, Liar’s lyrics are vulnerable and a little bit self-conscious with a confident delivery that shouts over the mountaintops.
The tempo mix is a good balance and works in favor of the record. It’s equal parts Sincere Engineer and Frank Turner. Ballad “Less Vegas” closes it out sharing the mic with Honeyblood’s Stina Tweeddale and, somewhat surprisingly, reminding me of Bright Eyes to end things on a somber note.
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