Liam Bailey has released “Angel Dust,” the new single off the singer/songwriter’s forthcoming release Ekundayo, the album is due out on November 13th via Big Crown Records. The song is the fourth from the album, following “White Light,” “Champion,” which announced Liam’s signing to Big Crown Records late last year, and “Don’t Blame NY.”
Ekundayo was produced by Leon Michels of El Michels Affair, who first teamed up with Liam on their 2012 7″ “When Will They Learn/I’m Gonna Miss You,” and finds Liam reconnecting with Michels to make the record they’ve always strived towards following their first meeting in 2005. The album’s title translates to “sorrow becomes joy” in Yoruba, a language spoken mostly in Western Africa, which perfectly encapsulates the essence of the album and offers a true introduction to Liam’s artistry. There’s a through line of creative freedom and liberating honesty across Ekundayo that pairs old, textured Reggae riddims with the introspective storytelling of old soul records and modern R&B. Beyond testing the boundaries of genre, Liam’s songwriting finds him tackling personal moments in his music free of any prior restraints and presents a full portrait of Liam’s identity as an artist and a man.
Big Crown Records
November 13, 2020
3. White Light
4. Don’t Blame NY
5. Cold & Clear
6. Angel Dust
9. Ugly Truth
10. Young In Love
11. She Hates This Life
12. Where Do I Start?
13. Paper Tiger
Liam Bailey’s music, gets comparisons to an Otis-Redding-type soul sound, or even the depth-of-texture his vocals provide the occasional UK Drum & Bass track-Liam was just another lad in Nottingham, England, being raised by a single mom with a heavy record collection.
Being the son of an English mother and Jamaican father who wasn’t around, Liam will admit his childhood was fairly chaotic and filled with “all the cliches that happen when people start mixing up in the ’80s in England.” Those records he’d listen to, sitting cross-legged in front of the speakers, not only provided some solace for a young Liam then. With names like Bob Marley and Dillinger, Stevie Wonder and The Supremes, The Beatles and Jimi Hendrix on their dust jackets, those records would eventually carve into shape the singer/songwriter we know today.
Fast-forward to 2005, Liam is in London and doing the whatever-gig-you-can-get musician hustle, ideally looking to land a record deal. And it was through this time that Liam first teamed up with Leon Michels, musician/producer luminary, and the co-founder of Brooklyn’s own Big Crown Records.
In 2007, Liam’s management introduced him to Sounding Out the City, the first record from Leon’s El Michels Affair. It blew him away. Liam jumped at the chance to connect with them and collaborate on some writing sessions. Within a week, Liam flew out to New York, met and vibed with Leon and the group, and began writing and recording songs. “It was an amazing first trip to New York,” Liam recalls of meeting Leon. “And I’ve been working with him ever since.”
That trip helped kick off what was to follow next for Liam: a slew of record releases, label deals, and working with some wildly-notable mainstream producers. Even a just-famous Amy Winehouse heard one of Liam’s apartment-made, lo-fi recordings through a friend and liked what she heard. Regardless of the audio quality, Liam’s particular sound shone through-all guitar, warm-rough and genuine soul. She signed him to her label shortly after.
But, as the story can go with major labels, they already had an idea of the Liam they wanted to make, promote, and push. With the typical pay-day enticement, Liam did his best to fit into whatever shape they put him to. “‘Maybe I can make it work,’ that’s what you’re thinking,” Liam remembers. “But, you quickly find out that you can’t.” The prospects of trying to maintain for these labels became quickly apparent: you may win, and then lose yourself-or you just lose.
Still, Liam considers himself lucky. “I always knew that I wasn’t defined by the deal that I was in,” Liam reminisces. “I had this feeling that I’d just keep going…” Liam confirms it was this youthful arrogance that both contributed to those past prospects going pear-shaped, but then also helped him to save himself. “It taught me the value of listening to your instincts, the importance of believing in yourself-and not trying to find that self-empowerment through something you don’t understand.”