Through the rampage of the recent ukulele revival we’ve come to expect a certain sound from ukulele artists haven’t we? Even those of us that hold the instrument so dearly will acknowledge there’s a lot of stuff out there that I could describe as “bedroom-kamakawiwo’ole”. And there really is nothing wrong with that at all, half the charm comes from the accessibility of the uke and the instant gratification and simplicity it can bring to your soul. It is, however, terrific to slap on a uke CD that opens with a slow beating organ arrangement atop synthesized strings flowing into a picked uke melody, piano backing and a deep rich vocal. Boundaries should always be pushed.
Something I wish to state early on is that Liam’s style certainly echoes David Bowie (with a website called starman the association is surely inescapable) and I’m reminded too of Nick Cave, both of course divine comparisons with genuine demigods. But leaving Liam’s enriched voice aside, the album proffers instrumental tracks as well as songs and the orchestration of the whole is a veritable mine of goodies with tenor and baritone uke at the core enveloped by a great MIDI sourced sound bank and indeed a little cello! The tracks alternate between song and instrumental which I rather like as it makes the album flow along rather nicely. In both genres the arrangements are always clever showcasing a great deal of skill both in performance technique and creativeness. There is little room for I, IV, V and I am reminded far more of the avant-garde composers of the 20th century than any ukulele artist you could mention, this impression at its deepest during in the darkly flamboyant Fatherhood. Heck I can even hear overtones of Charles Ives!
Two further Uke Planet picks would be Oh Giselle!, steeped in beautiful sorrow and the more uplifting dancing ukulele in the delightfully titled Puddle Jumping. But these are truly subjective, it’s a treasure chest of an album offering layer upon layer of golden discovery for each individual.
The ukulele is such a happy wee instrument that it can far more challenging to create something so deep seated, grittily layered and textured. Liam Capper-Starr has taken his flag, furiously climbed to the summit of that mysterious melancholic mountain and firmly spiked it into the crest. This album eclipses any preconceived ukulele ideas one may have, its dark hypnotic stance reaching out beyond the tribe to offer an album of thoughtful and talented creation to any connoisseur of quality music.
There’s plenty of info Liam’s rather excellent website (complete with a rock star of a domain name!) or you can hit Social Media and find Liam on Facebook, Twitter, Soundcloud & YouTube. The album is available to download at Bandcamp.