Liam Cloud wrote a song, and that song took on a life of its own, and that’s your fault. Thing is, see, when we take in art, we can only understand about that piece of art what it’s saying to us. You ever noticed that? And then we bring our own baggage to the conversation we have with the art.
When that happens, we feel clever, don’t we? Because we consume the art, and we start divining layers and depth into it. This art has dramatic meaning and it speaks directly to our souls, and the artist making it carried some kind of genius or psychic powers or voodoo magic or something, because they figured out how to talk right to me.
You ever had that experience? I have a few times.
Anyway, Liam’s got a single coming out, “Blink.” If you’ve ever heard him perform it at a show, you might recognize that feeling.
And Liam DEFINITELY put all those layers in on purpose. Oh, for sure.
The Semi-Classic Argument Song
I like a good breakup song, me. I also like a good crush song—you know, those ones about romantic infatuation at the beginning of a relationship. I like those songs about the comfort of a relationship that’s working too. I just like songs about people having feelings for each other.
Know what you see rarely? A song about having a direct conversation about setting expectations and discussing consequences during an imperfect stage of a relationship. An argument song, in a sense, or a “warning song” as Liam put it. It’s a stage in a relationship rich with emotional depth. I don’t know why we don’t see them more often.
I mean, I sort of do. It’s a complicated moment to write about, I figure. I like complicated moments, providing an amount of emotional complexity worth thinking about afterwards and revisiting for more later.
Which was apparently part of Liam’s intent. Liam likes writing songs with replay value, you see. He said he likes writing songs that reward listeners for coming back to the track. When he said it, we were talking about the sound, which I’ll get to in a second. It works for the lyrics too. The lyrics of “Blink” are one half of a conversation expressing the narrator’s feelings that they want to create some boundaries in the relationship, or else the other person in the relationship might “blink and I’m gone.” Quite profound, that. There are some suggestions about the other person in the relationship. Maybe they had stolen the narrator’s cookies one time too many or something. I don’t know. That’s speculation. The point is, it’s not all there.
The song is four minutes long. Each of the four minutes has quite a different feeling about it. The song begins gently, but then soon becomes almost aggressive, as if the narrator starts calm but then gets their wind up quite a bit. Then it becomes more conversational. By the end, the tone is almost—almost—plaintive, but not quite apologetic. In the end, Liam made the clever choice of cutting the song off in the middle of a lyric, leaving me to wonder how the relationship went, but I had a lot of clues. It could have gone anywhere. It was quite thrilling, to be honest.
Yeah, but I’m a Guitar Player
As a track, “Blink” shows ofF Liam’s skill set quite well. He wrote some solid lyrics, showcasing his wit as a writer. Vocally, the song is performed in Liam’s usual precise and expressive vocal style. It’s always a pleasure to listen to Liam giving himself over to a performance. He’s got a strong and well-trained voice with quite an impressive range of tone and emotion. In its initial form, “Blink” was mainly considered a vocal song. Liam wrote the song a few years ago, and at the time his producer advised him that it was such a pretty, lyrical song that those lyrics and Liam’s vocal performance ought to be emphasized when the track was released.
It wasn’t released back then. Things happened. A couple years passed, and “Blink” remained a demo in Liam’s “to-do” list. Liam never forgot about it. It itched at him. He knew he needed to finish the song, even if he hadn’t figured out how yet.
Time passed. Liam grew. After a time, he got a new manager (Dylan Charbeneau, as it happens, a dude we’ve written about in Front Page News before). “Blink” bubbled toward the top of projects to release. So Liam and Dylan looked at it.
They pretty much redid the entire track. Dylan ran a bunch of fresh backing tracks on the single, and Liam liked it a little better. They set a release date for the single, because it was time to release it into the wild.
It still bugged Liam. He kept stewing on it. It helps to have good collaborators, you know? Liam says that working with Dylan Charbeneau contributed to his sense of exploration. Dylan and Liam had the kind of working relationship that helped Liam feel like it was cool to challenge the shape of the song and work on improving it.
In the form it was to this point, it was still mixed in a fashion to reflect the original attitude of that producer who’d mixed it originally. It’s a pretty song with compelling lyrics. It’s a lyrics song. It’s not a guitar song. It had guitar in it, but it didn’t have A LOT of guitar in it. Because it’s a pretty song. It’s a lyrics song. It’s not a guitar song.
“Yeah, but I’m a guitar player. That’s who I am.” That was Liam’s eventual realization.
So I’m writing this on May the second, two days before the single is getting released. I interviewed Liam two days ago, on Friday, the twenty-ninth of April. On the twenty-eighth of April, Liam went into the studio and spent several hours rocking around on his guitar, coming up with solos to add to the track. Because that’s what it needed.
Because Liam does have a great voice, but he’s a guitar player.
The track needed it. It’s way better for it.
A Not So Simple, Simple Song
Liam says that he did something different for this song than he usually does when he writes a song. He says that he almost always starts with music, rather than lyrics, and that he almost always starts by messing about with his guitar for a while. That’s one of his ways of thinking aloud. He says that the result of that is a tendency toward complexity in the guitar. Makes sense. He’s a guitar player. Celebrating the guitar is sort of his thing.
With “Blink”, he started differently than that. It still started with the music, but this time he started with the drums. He was jamming with Bryan Curtis (another punter we’ve talked about). Bryan was messing around with his drums, playing a rhythm where the one of the beat was emphasized. Imagine the song “Benny and the Jets.” That’s the kind of beat. (It’s also, technically, mirror-polka, but we’re not going to get into that.)
It is an unusual beat to hear, especially in modern rock and roll, because it’s technically “simple.” It’s sometimes considered a crude tempo to write a song in, because can’t you think of anything more interesting. Songwriters seem to avoid it.
Ah-hah. There we have you. Because prudent dictates that all tools have their uses. “Benny and the Jets” is a pretty dope song (even if it’s one beat away from being mariachi). Playing on the one makes a cool sound, man. Where it works, it works.
For this song, it really works. It contributes to the tone of the song. It’s a song about having a direct conversation about the state of a relationship (or that’s what I bring to it). Those conversations can have rather a marching feeling, can’t they? So a tempo sort of like that in “Benny and the Jets” makes sense. (Doesn’t matter that “Benny and the Jets” is pretty much reverse reggae.)
“Blink” release was announced on May Fourth—on a day globally known as “may the fourth be with you.“ it also happens to be Liam’s grandfather’s birthday. Watch for it. It’s the debut 19th of June, or sort of re-debut, of a Liam Cloud who, if he hadn’t already, has arrived.