After two sub-par Beady Eye records and a messy divorce, former Oasis frontman, working-class hero, and the voice of a generation, Liam Gallagher thought about quitting music for good. After his post-Oasis band, Beady Eye, split up, there were loads of rumours of a potential solo career, but they were often dismissed by the man himself and because Liam never seemed interested in writing his own music. However, after picking himself back up and finally presenting a song of his own, “Bold”, to a record label, they were intrigued and asked if he was interested in working with some professional songwriters.
The project quickly snowballed as he began accumulating new material and he started working with the Grammy-winning producer, Greg Kurstin, who decided to take a much simpler approach to Liam’s music than previous Beady Eye producers. As teased on Twitter for a while, Liam Gallagher’s debut solo record would be titled, As You Were as he was finally ready to put his name up in lights after repeatedly bashing his brother, Noel Gallagher, for doing the same.
As You Were opens with the punchy lead single, Wall Of Glass and Liam’s voice already sounds noticeably stronger than anything he’s done with Beady Eye, not to mention the fact that the song adopts a much more back to basics approach than the overblown, psychedelic material on the latest Beady Eye record, BE. There are even glimpses of classic Liam Gallagher on the track as it seems he’s finally found his feet and his voice in a post-Oasis world.
Next up is Bold, which was the song that got him signed to Warner Brothers Records. For someone who’s not used to writing songs on his own, the song’s chorus has some awfully catchy melodies and he was even able to sneak in a nod (or a jab) to his brother’s latest solo album, Chasing Yesterday (“there’s no love worth chasing yesterday”).
Throughout the tracklisting, there are plenty of odes to Liam’s beloved Beatles. There’s the John Lennon-esque ballad Paper Crown, lyrical references like “helter skelter” and “tomorrow never knows”, and the psychedelic When I’m In Need whose grand, ethereal outro is an impressive and welcome surprise. There are also references to his past work with Oasis with For What It’s Worth mimicking the heartfelt, grandiose nature of Whatever and I Get By recalling the commanding, snarling sound of Liam’s voice on Standing On The Shoulder Of Giants.
There are still a few tunes that don’t fully connect like You Better Run and Come Back To Me, but at least, this time around, none of the songs get lost in the production style like they did previously. Producer Greg Kurstin has allowed plenty of room for the songs to breathe while providing just the right balance of additional elements like soulful backing vocalists, piano, and brass. Essentially, he’s allowed Liam’s greatest asset – his voice and attitude – to become the centrepiece of the record and as a result, the record is a strikingly raw, clean, and satisfying listen. The record concludes with the intimate I’ve All I Need, which is Liam’s acceptance of life after Oasis and his comforting message for Oasis fans (“there’s no time for looking back”, “it’s not goodbye / so dry your eyes”).
As You Were is a much-needed improvement from both Beady Eye efforts and there are even remnants of Oasis’ triumphant final album, Dig Out Your Soul with its soulful, bluesy grooves and its meat and potatoes style songwriting, production, and rhythm. For Oasis fans that prefer Liam over Noel, this is the post-Oasis work that they’ve been waiting for. Its short, snappy, 60’s influenced rock and roll tunes connect more often than not and though Liam’s not exactly reinventing the wheel here, he’s come up with the most cohesive post-Oasis album yet. Your move, Noel.