by Nick Hopton
The king has returned.
Why Me? Why Not. is the follow up to Liam Gallagher’s wildly successful 2017 solo debut As You Were. Just like his previous outing, Gallagher finds a way to distance himself from the great and mighty Oasis (just enough) and continues to build a new legacy on his own terms, which is exactly the way he likes it. However, this time around, he takes it a step further by incorporating new genres and musical vibes that have never been laid down by the parka wearing renegade before. But make no mistake…it is a familiar record by a familiar artist.
It’s the all fuss, no-nonsense, once in a lifetime musical vigilante.
It’s the magic of the stone-faced artistic assassin.
The last of the true rock n’ roll stars.
It IS Liam Gallagher.
The journey begins with Shockwave. A cocked, locked and ready to fire lead single that snarls with the best of his tracks on any endeavor. Liam delivers right out of the gate with a stomping, sonic, tour-de-force that channels the glory days of brit-rock. One of Us takes an immediate left turn to the introspective. Artists typically leave an open-ended answer as to what their songs really mean to let the audience dive into a place of self-discovery. But in this case, make no mistake…”One of Us” is about the relationship with his brother, Noel Gallagher. “Act like you don’t remember. You said we’d live forever.” echoes lyrics from the classic debut Oasis album Definitely, Maybe that put Liam and Noel on the map, changing music forever.
“Once” is the “For What It’s Worth” ballad of the album. The thought-provoking, reminiscent call to the days of youth. A somewhat laughable album-standout line “just clean the pool, send the kids to school” is immediately followed by a last gasp of the good life that is “oh I remember how you used to shine back then”, making the listener remember that life is but a fleeting moment in time. It is the most memorable track on the record and one of the finest pieces of music he’s ever created. “Now That I’ve Found You” kicks up the fun and makes a lively call to The Who, with a splash of the Oasis classic Roll With It. The new love that’s always been there, yet never realized until now. The relief in finding the one thing you’ve been searching for in life, the only thing that can set you free. However, while tackling such storylines, it is admittedly a bit cheesy at times, feeling like it belongs on the soundtrack of a romantic comedy.
“Halo” is an ode to the classics. VERY heavy “Let’s Spend The Night Together” vibes. A drunken, barroom carousel ride with a jivey piano leading the parade. The soundtrack to stumbling through a weekend bender with Gallagher himself. Hands down the most fun track on the record. The title track, “Why Me? Why Not.” roars in with battle-ready drums walking you down the streets of Manchester with a “fuck what they think” strut that only Liam Gallagher could supply. A rare falsetto chorus from Gallagher gives this one a unique feel from the typical rock your socks off approach. “Be Still” kicks off with a simple, yet memorable western guitar line. “My Momma said keep moving, though you’re down you’re gonna rise again” screams to his past struggles of life without Oasis. Liam goes back to the ’90’s melodically but proves that you can teach an old dog new tricks with this desert roaming firecracker.
“Alright Now” kicks off a set of subdued tunes by bringing in a psychedelic, 50’s Doo-Wop feel to the album. Liam takes some risks with the composition. For the most part, it works. But there are certain aspects that just leave you wanting more. The same thing could be said about “Meadow“, easily the most forgettable song on the album. It feels like a filler song as the lyrics want to take you to a place of redemption, but the delivery doesn’t quite get you there. Every album has one track that is the weakest, this is it.
Enough with the soft, back to the boom! “The River” is a rousing romper that reminds you that Gallagher is still capable of making tunes that will have a crowd bouncing and singing until their lungs give out. “You gotta scream and shout if you’re gonna work this out”. This is the track that proves the anger of the past has become a fuel to propel him further into music history.
We close with “Gone”. Revisiting the western vibe from Be Still, Liam leads us through the desert of life like a British highwayman riding into the sunset with the spirit of Johnny Cash riding shotgun. There is still music to be made. There are still stories to be told. But “Gone” leaves us with a question of, will we get that next chapter?
It’s a winding dirt road leading you into the mind and heart of one of rock’s all-time greatest frontmen. Top to bottom, Gallagher shows that he’s still got the ability to deliver memorable songs, while also not being afraid to push his sound landscapes even further. There’s a bit of everything on this one, and that’s what makes it so special. The golden boy of Manchester once again proves that rock and roll will never die, at least not while he’s still breathing.