Liam Singer
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Liam Singer

Band Pop Singer/Songwriter


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This band has not uploaded any videos


The best kept secret in music


"Cokemachineglow review"

A series of Beethoven piano sonatas was recently removed from Indietorrents, a private bit torrent-based file sharing site with rules and regulations verging on the dictatorial. For once, the reason was not for fear of RIAA watchdogs, poor quality files, or a duplicate posting. Indietorrents doesn’t have a genre option for “classical,� and so the subsequently mislabeled discs (“hip-hop,� apparently, being the next best choice) were taken off of the site. Aside from showcasing the ineffectiveness of bureaucratic red tape, the bigger message of the brief debacle seemed to be this: classical music has no place in indie rock. How, then, should we label Liam Singer?

It’s difficult to characterize a musician who approaches the piano as a pianist and not as a guitarist. Most tend to ignore the instrument’s capabilities; even the Beatles tended to stick with chords. Suffice to say, Singer’s technique is more expansive. “Water Rushing At You,� for example, is a dazzling two minutes of arpeggios and a hesitant bass clef gradually overcome by a flurry of scalar motions. It’s one of several solo piano compositions on the album, in itself a set of terms which sets off all of the classical music red flags; after all, pop musicians don’t play “compositions,� do they? Well, Singer does, at least until his vocals come in. Make no mistake, during the twelve minutes Singer lives up to his name, this debut is an indie-pop release.

The lo-fi aesthetic of The Empty Heart Of The Chameleon gives the piano a weighty, brooding tone. The lower register is particularly plodding and heavy in the untitled opening instrumental, when Singer lets the deep chords resonate. The casual recording atmosphere is filled with tiny noises: fingers on the keys, footsteps, and rustling papers permeate the songs, lending the album the air of a chamber performance in someone’s living room. Against this backdrop, Singer’s voice is purposeful despite its whispery nervousness. Much like several songs from Elliott Smith’s Either/Or, Singer is his own duet partner, singing in near-identical double-tracked takes. Though this approach works, his finest performance comes when he removes the safety net and sings in the singular in “One Day.� The music underscores a sunny picnic scene with the carefree feel of well-paced waltz, and Singer never sounds quite as assured as he does when he yearns for “the look in your open eyes.� Considering the song’s chorus laments the inevitable explosion of the Sun, a little confidence here goes a long way. Elsewhere, “Father I See� delivers a scathing final message to his absent father in a way that would make Cat Stevens wince.

Singer only falters when he leans on other people’s material; though not the worst problem for a young singer/songwriter to have, it’s an unnecessary misuse of the album’s scant twenty-six minutes. The middle three songs rely on the contributions of others: “Between My Lips, Which Did Sing� is his arrangement of an E. E. Cummings poem sung by Michelle Brandone’s trained soprano, which strains uncomfortably for the highest notes. “When I Am Laid In Earth,� a piece from Henry Purcell’s opera “Dido And Aeneas� (so much for indie-pop), shares the same lyrical graveyard ground as “Between My Lips, Which Did Sing.� This thematic decision would be stronger if the funereal pace and overbearing minor key didn’t feel so out of place. Though Aeneas' legendary voyage ties into the album’s water motif and a later allusion to his Greek counterpart, Ulysses, Singer is trying to wedge an ill-fitting homage into an album which simply doesn’t require it.

In a tantalizing hint of potential, “Hanna’s Dance� introduces a quick vocal harmony before segueing into a reprise of the album’s introduction. The Empty Heart Of The Chameleon is over far too quickly, leaving us to wonder if Singer has a stack of unreleased material of Iron & Wine proportions lying in wait, or if this is just the first tentative foray into recording. Whatever genre he ends up in, as long as his next release finds him following his own muse more often, Liam Singer is an artist to keep an ear on. - David Greenwald /

"Dave Heaton / Erasing Clouds"

Record-label press releases, filled with hyperbole as they always are, aren't usually the best place to look for descriptions of music, yet Tell-All Records is right in evoking composer John Adams and Elliott Smith's stripped-down songwriting to describe Liam Singer. His album The Empty Heart of the Chameleon switches from instrumental pieces of new classical music to up-close-and-personal pop songs with their sights set on our inner selves. Actually he mostly makes that distinction meaningless; the album has plenty of piano passages that are as emotionally forceful as the "pop songs", and there's several songs where the singing is very structured and mannered, and places where the music gains the dramatic scale of opera.

The songs on The Empty Heart of the Chameleon flow from one to the next as if they're telling one story. That story feels right outside the reach of my fingertips, or maybe it doesn't exist. "Your brothers have been drowned/your struggle is the last/I'm here to calm you down/the water's moving faster now," Singer sings near the album's beginning, as if his voice is that of an angel whose task is to comfort people through song, as they die. The theme of what happens to us when we die (as well as how the living effect each other, in life and afterwards) comes up time and again, perhaps most beautifully on the gorgeous cover of "When I Am Laid In Earth," from 17th Century British composer Henry Purcell's opera Dido and Aeneas. Another truly gorgeous moment comes towards the end of the album, with "One Day," an enigmatic love ballad with apocalyptic touches, sung by Singer as a fragile plea.

There's a truly stirring emotional sweep to The Empty Heart, in the instrumental pieces as much as in Singer's naked vocal performances. The melodies carry with them so much feeling, and they're often performed in a way that could send chills down the spine of a ghost. Singer plays piano in a graceful, sensitive way that can also be quite intense, while other instruments, including a theremin, occasionally add texture and mystery. The Empty Heart of the Chameleon is a truly unique album; I can't think of other musicians occupying the space between pop and classical that Liam Singer does, or at least I can't think of any who do it in such a thrilling way, managing to capture the moods of both musics while creating a new one. That musical personality is almost off-putting at first, because in this time of hyper-classification you're not sure quite where it fits. Yet in the end the music itself is so forceful, and the ideas and feelings carried by the songs so varied and complicated, that 'figuring it out' doesn't matter. You just let it carry you away, let the river take you where it will. - Erasing Clouds


This quick listen (the longest of the twelve songs clocks in a little over 4 minutes, and most are under two) manages to raise quite a few strong emotions in the time allowed for it to effect you. Ranging from Beatlesque pop harmonies to almost modern compositional piano, Portland-ite Liam Singer has created a moving little record, each short tune going right for the emotional throat, quietly but confidently. If John Cage had played piano on Plastic Ono Band, it might have had this kind of feel.

Yet the melancholy of "the last", "Water rushing at you" or "between my lips, which did sing"-with some EE Cummings lines in there-is not oppressive, or even depressing; the sadness is just too damned beautiful to make you wallow in mopery.

Watch Liam Singer. He makes music the old fashioned way: creating new sounds that seem like they've been around forever. -


"The Empty Heart of the Chameleon" - full-length CD - Tell-All Records

Vocal track "Father I See" and instrumental highlight "Asthma / Rivets in Water" have received airplay on many freeform college stations, from WFMU to KALX.


Feeling a bit camera shy


Liam Singer is a multi-instrumentalist from Portland, Oregon, currently residing in San Francisco. The Empty Heart of the Chameleon is his debut solo album, on which he provides vocals, piano and Theremin. Liam recently completed a national tour with Portland band The Scientifics, featuring material from his new album, and is currently playing shows in and around the Bay Area in preparation for another nationwide tour.

The Empty Heart of the Chameleon, Singer's debut album, is evocative and subtle, interweaving influences of minimalism and classicism with a traditional songwriting ethic. Accessible, yet musically progressive, it weds virtuosity with intimacy and dramaticism with direct sincerity.

Influences include classical minimalism (Glass, Riley, and Reich, among others), Rachel's, Sufjan Stevens, Elliott Smith, Harold Budd, and Brian Eno.