“Time waits for no man, well time’s passed me by. It’s still you for who my soul’s thirsting.”
Time, and its inevitable passing, weighs heavy on Liam Frost’s third album.
And as he found himself seeking answers to evergreen existential questions, prompted by tragic events in his personal life, he looked to his youth for the answers. Despite their inspiration, the resulting songs – 12 of them, each a meditation on love, death, ageing and finding a place in the world – are full of hope amid the heartache, finding bittersweet in the sadness.
Written through a filter of “what can sometimes feel like total helplessness”, Smoke shines like a beacon.
In the aftermath of his mum passing away, he began sorting through her possessions. Among them, a box of memorabilia from the early days of his career. The “chequer-flag Vans and an old suit jacket” of what would become the song’s opening line stared back at him from a 15-year-old press cutting, immediately taking him back to the days of innocence before his debut album was released.
The remainder of the song followed shortly after, bolstered by an emotional visit to a childhood haunt on the north-west coast, where raw grief and the weight of family history were succeeded with acceptance and responsibility.
“I don’t believe in ghostly presences, despite the amount I’ve written about them in my songs,” he says. “But I definitely felt something that day, my parents by my side.”
Going Steady, the album’s opener, and The Slow Knife, followed shortly after and explore similar themes, using the past to map out a path for the future.
“It’s me working out where I go with a record at this point in my life, without a record label, dipping my toes back into my own music after what seems like a long time away.”
“People are so obsessed with how a kick drum sounds, but on some of the records I love more than any others, the kick drum sounds like someone smacking a biscuit tin. Ultimately, it’s not important if you can bottle the right energy.”
For proof it worked, listen no further than the effortless Hall of Mirrors, Rope of Sand, or the swampy blues of Mercy Me!
The past, present and future have come together on an album of rare quality, with Liam delivering a record that encapsulates who he was, who he’s become and his hopes for what’s ahead.
“I’ve always just wanted to be honest with my songwriting,” he says. “And it offers comfort, to exorcise the demons and emotions that are too much to deal with away from a song – I couldn’t say these things out loud, but sending these missives out into the world is a valuable thing. It also lets people know they’re not alone.
“Without digging deep, like I have done, I might as well be doing covers. It all comes from an honest place – that’s all I’ve ever wanted to do.”