Neil Finn is no stranger to singing with family, having spent time in both Split Enz and Crowded House with his brother. So it shouldn't be surprising that he's now recorded a record with another family member, this time his son Liam. What is surprising is just how lyrical and lush this record is. Lightsleeper is a gorgeous affair, one that reaffirms fans' admiration for the elder Finn even as it announces a new talent in the younger.
Lightsleeper alternates between downright ornate numbers ("Meet Me in the Air", "Listen"), with more direct pop-rock pieces that should be compelling to anyone who's even casually followed Neil's career over the last 30 years ("Any Other Way", "Anger Plays a Part"). While lots here suggests those familiar Finn-isms that pepper every project Neil touches, there's just as much here that indicates that Liam Finn is bringing his share of artistry to this effort as well, as selections like the woozy "We Know What It Means" and the lurching "Ghosts" charm easily on first listen.
And while there are other Finn family members on Lightsleeper, and even Mick Fleetwood, what succeeds here is surely down to the work of Neil Finn and his son Liam. Remarkably confident, the compositions here feel, at times, like songs heard in a dream, the sort of chamber pop guys like Richard Davies and Elliott Smith once pursued. And while Lightsleeper is sure to please long-time fans of almost any project Neil Finn's been associated with, I was most impressed with the bits that pointed the artist towards new territory, territory his son Liam seems eager to explore. And if that means that a listener is not quite sure who's driving the ship, at least the journey is in pleasant waters.
Lightsleeper is out on Friday via PIAS and Inertia.
[Photo: Russ Flatt]