Liam Bailey - Definitely Now
by Shannon Smith
This review is going annoy people, and for that I am sorry, but I cannot tell a lie. Seemingly controversially, I just did not like it. Simple as that.
With rave reviews using phases such as “genre-defying” and “so effortless”, I was expecting to hear something utterly, undeniably amazing. Bailey’s best work is where his lyrical performance is allowed to shine though. That was the album I expected, and about a third of Definitely Now glimmered at this ideal. The rest however, was just way too much, crowding over Bailey’s true vision with a muddled, confused track list. I desperately tried to love it, and then wanted to help it – but all I feel is pity. Why pity? Pity, because Bailey deserved a better album than Definitely Now (although I may be the only person who feels this way).
When the first track On My Mind started to play, my heart sunk. With the strong, rock backing track, some of the classic Bailey sting has been taken away. Though the encompassing bass and drums, with antagonistic guitar riffs, I admittedly was surprised I did not love it. It has all the pieces to be a track on continuous loop on my playlist. Yet – in reality, I was a little bored. I cannot say this album is genre defying, because whilst Definitely Now flits between certain genres such as blues, soul, and rock – the bounds are not great leaps. Though throughout the album there are clear influences, such as Jimi Hendrix and Amy Winehouse, nothing new was given to the musical universe. Take Villain for instance, which was ironically a high point on the album. But why you ask? Maybe because it sounds like a modern Jimi Hendrix creation (but notably not as magical).
Lyrically, as expected, Bailey’s voice is his typically strong with lyrics such as “Now all your dreams are gone / And you are the reason / You really got me wrong / You call it treason”. It makes me sad that I could not appreciate his lyrics, either because I was distracted by all the background noise or I was bored out of my mind. Songs such as Crazy Situation and Stun Me should have been overflowing with feelings – yet both were just “meh” (yes, I actually used the word “meh”). I do feel all these songs might be better live – however, that will not help Bailey in this review!
Definitely Now is the kind of album you would hear in a shop: completely inoffensive and calm enough so you can all do your retail therapy in peace. Even the “rock” songs on this album do not push any buttons or cause any excitement for the listener (well, this listener anyway). Bailey had the opportunity here to either create an album that excites and challenges the listener or one that is filled with such overwhelming emotion. Yet all I hear is mediocre music.