SINGLE REVIEW: Liam Sullivan – ‘Stadiums And Churches’


Liam has become one of those artists I really look forward to reviewing but there’s more than that. He’s become a firm favourite of mine. One, because he writes really great words and two, because you never quite know what he’s going to release next – electric, acoustic, folky, Americana, rock. It is a beautiful lottery but it’s always good, you know it’s going to be good.

And I should warn you that I’m going to gush. Some artists deserve gushing; Liam is one of those.

In contrast to the guitar heavy sound of his last single – ‘Be Kind’ – ‘Stadiums And Churches’ is built around a piano, a light and beguiling piano. As he sings in what I can only describe as a gentle folky way. And it’s magical.

Gradually an acoustic guitar builds until it breaks into a heavy strummed folk guitar break. And then the song builds to the bewitching finale of a vocal only ‘Daybreak’.

It’s light, urgent, uplifting. The sound speaks of good happy things to come. His songs always come with a meaning, a story, a mood that is being described. And this is no different, ‘Stadiums And Churches’ was written and recorded during lockdown. As with all of Liam’s work, it is steeped in imagery. He uses his poetry to look at how the world is changing. Places such as stadiums and churches, which used to hold such reverence in people’s lives, are now empty. But will be filled again.

Musically it reminds me of all sorts of artists I love – hints of Nick Drake, John Martyn, Damien Rice, even early Kate Bush and Yes. But that isn’t really enough, nowhere near enough. As I sit here tapping awkwardly at my keyboard all I can do is to pluck influences out of the song. And I shouldn’t be doing that. It’s the whole song that matters. So let’s do that.

This is singer/songwriter music with incredible depth – both lyrically and musically. Yes, there are hints of folk but this isn’t folk music. And that’s the thing about Liam, his songs are written to fit the words, the topic, the mood; that’s why they don’t sound the same. They have a thread that runs through – a thread of a feel that says this is a song by him. And it’s that feel that I love. Part of that feel is the enormous care he puts into his songs – the way the different sounds are placed. His songs are sonically rich – layers of perfectly placed backing vocals, guitar sounds that are infinitely variable – all with that voice of his to the fore. But the part that really gets me is that his songs come from the heart, his soul, he sings those songs from the heart.

With every release I grow more and more impressed with Liam’s work; I haven’t been disappointed once. And the more I hear the more I appreciate the beauty in his music, the heart and soul, the power of his words to move me.

But there’s something about this song, something that chimes with my mood right now, and probably our mood. It’s the right song at the right time. And it’s lodged itself in that part of my head where all the music I really love sits.

This is perfect and beautiful. There’s nothing more to say.

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Frank is the website guy for Local Sound Focus. Takes a lot of photos and loves writing about new music.