Liam the Younger is the project of Liam Betson, a man who’s spent some time playing with his friends, Titus Andronicus. But, that’s about all he shares, or at least his music shares, with his friends, as After the Graveyard is a stripped down affair of bedroom folk tunes. It’s just now being released by Underwater Peoples, after being stored away for the perfect day.
One of the first things you’ll notice when listening to opener “Current Joys” is that there’s definitely a minimal recording quality with the album, but I promise that won’t detract from the listening experience–not one bit. There’s a familiarity in Betson’s voice, which reminds me of Elf Power (in vocals only), but it’s his approach, which includes the recording hiss, is reminiscent of a young Conor Oberst. If you listen to “Ode to Then,” it’s hard not to see the similarity, as his delivery definitely has that same feeling of nonchalance. And while indifference might not be the most charming attribute for a human, you can appreciate it in the musical sense, as the songs on After the Graveyard come across as personal introspections.
For the most part, most Liam the Younger songs on this effort don’t go too far beyond the 2 minute mark, which might do a bit of a disservice to the songs themselves. You barely have time to soak in the special quality of each number before you’re on to the next number, but tread carefully, as there are definitely some real gems. “It Is Good” is one such track, and probably one of my favorite of this entire collection. It begins with a softly picked jangling guitar, which then moves up a bit to more of a steady strum. The pace carries on for the rest of the song, finally fading towards the very end. Find this song, and no matter what, you’ll be pleased Liam sat down to pen any songs at all.
All in all, a great deal of these songs come across as brief demos, as if they’re not fleshed out quite as one would expect. It’s always great to hear someone having fun recording tracks all on their own, but one is left to wonder what would happen with a bit more time spent with each song, narrowing down the precise elements that really stand out. Don’t get me wrong, After the Graveyard is absolutely chock-full of such elements, so much so that it’s a bit overwhelming at times, but I’d love to see Liam the Younger go back in time and re-record all these tracks with everything he’s learned. Pretty sure he’d be indie newcomer of the year. For now, he’ll have to settle on being a musician with loads of talent, who just needs a touch more time.