When I was in college I took a four-hour night course about music writing. Since we were typically tired as hell by the end of class, we often spent the last hour or so just listening to music together. One night, I brought in a CD-R with a short song by Liam Betson burned onto it to play through the classroom’s sound system, back when the New Jersey native was releasing quiet, folky material as Liam the Younger. At the time, we were reading Lost Highway: Journeys and Arrivals of American Musicians, Peter Guralnick’s text about classic country and roots music, and I thought Betson’s “Country Wide” really captured the blue collar, soft-plucked storytelling that Guralnick dissected in his tome. Betson’s music has filled-out and powered-up since then, but his smart and sturdy songwriting has stuck around. On July 22nd, Double Double Whammy will release The Cover of Hunter, Betson’s first full-length under his given name, which features contributions from Julian Lynch and members of Titus Andronicus (with whom Betson played guitar for a few years) and Big Troubles. “Pocket Knife,” streaming below, is that record’s frazzled lead single.
Stream: Liam Betson, “Pocket Knife”