British singer-songwriter Liam Cromby, known for his previous work as the lead singer and songwriter of We Are The Ocean, has released his debut solo album What Can I Trust, If I Can’t Trust True Love .
Cromby, who began his UK headline tour back on the 1st December with a hometown show in Loughton, recorded the album in a matter of days, but the project was at least five years in the making.
After ten years on the road with We Are The Ocean, and consistent support from national radio and press such as BBC Radio 1, NME and Kerrang, in 2017 Liam found himself at crossroads, with every path seemingly leading away from his true passion, music.
“It was making me ill,” shares Cromby, describing the mental health issues and self-destructive behaviour that often come with being in a full-time touring rock band, but ultimately, “because I found it so difficult to communicate, I found it difficult to write… I left music altogether.” With songwriting having been his primary creative and emotional outlet in his early twenties, suddenly finding himself without a way to express his innermost thoughts, he was at a loss.
Eventually driven to pursue his version of a ‘normal life’, he sought a stable job outside of the music industry, and found himself trying several different forms of work: as a tailor in the City of London; at a company that built office furniture; teaching online; and a role at a musical equipment supply company. Among other things, the “hard graft” of the furniture company gave Liam some perspective, showing him the value of “enjoying life, and being grateful for the little things.”
When a day job took him to Nashville, Tennessee in 2019, he took the opportunity to immerse himself in Music City, and started connecting with like-minded musicians and songwriters. This led to writing sessions with Kenny Foster and Emery Adeline, and both the resulting songs, ‘Trying’ and ‘Love Takes Time’, respectively, found their way onto the album.
More importantly, though, the trip had the side effect of reigniting his love for authentic, honest songwriting. Having grown up in a musical family, listening to classic country artists like Patsy Cline and Johnny Cash, his time there reminded himself of their influence on his own writing, highlighting that the key ingredients of a good song are often the same, regardless of genre or context.
Around the time one part of his life had been falling apart, with the breakup of We Are The Ocean, Liam met his now wife, Ashlea, representing a shift in the way he viewed both himself and the world around him. “She’s in all of [these songs], pretty much,” he shares, “the journey from that time to when I finished recording the album.”
Upon returning from Nashville, Cromby found himself “relying on old behaviours,” primarily heavy drinking, and Ashlea began to notice, ultimately recommending that he sought help. That help took the form of counselling, in which Liam worked to understand why he no longer enjoyed music the way he once had. At the same time, he stopped drinking, and made the decision to start busking for the first time, primarily to pay the bills. Looking back now, he realises that those conversations, and the new experience of “being able to perform these songs for people who were just walking past every day,” reminded him of music’s unique power to touch people in a profound, personal way, often when they need it most.
As these realisations helped Liam find his way back to creating his own music, Ashlea approached him with another suggestion. On the “eve of a Karmic Cycle” – at the time, a new concept to him – he tried his first holistic treatment. Around halfway through, in his words, “things got wild.” Describing it as an intense, out of body experience, he felt himself falling through darkness, standing in a pitch-black cave, and realising he had to get himself out. Reaching for the one pin-prick of light, before peeling away the black, he envisioned himself surrounded by the “brightest, whitest light I’ve ever seen,” then watching a version of himself in series of dream-like scenarios, ultimately left with the feeling that he had died, and been re-born. His first words upon re-entering consciousness, finding the room he’d been in to look completely different, as if he was seeing the world for the first time, were: “I’m not Liam anymore.”
The unexpected spiritual awakening, and the ego death that accompanied it, propelled him forward to get back into music with a renewed drive and sense of purpose; signing up for a degree in songwriting and production, which he’s now two years into, and reaching out to Peter Miles (The Wandering Hearts, Elles Bailey, Seth Lakeman), the producer of several of We Are The Ocean’s albums, including Go Now And Live, the first project to be recorded at his renowned Middle Farm Studios. Cromby hadn’t been back to the studio since recording the band’s final album, Ark, and upon returning there, found himself overwhelmed with emotion, a sense of homecoming, and the recognition of a full circle moment.
Initially meeting in the studio with the intention of recording a handful of songs on Miles’ new tape machine, with a group of his musician friends – the pair had initially bonded over their love of analogue recordings, and the idea of capturing “lightning in a bottle” in a live-to-tape setting – two days turned into four, then in just under a week, ten songs had been tracked with a full band.
Since sharing the first taste of new music in March 2023, with the release of album track ‘Here I Am’, followed by ‘Breakdown’ and ‘At This Table’, this new phase of his career is already off to an impressive start, ith early airplay from BBC Introducing, Absolute Radio Country, Kerrang Radio, and festival appearances including The Great Escape and Black Deer.
His lyrics, whether in the heavy, four-piece rock band setting of his former life, or in the more soulful, acoustic-led songs of his solo work, have frequently touched on deep topics, often reflecting on the meaning of life itself, and a search for a sense of purpose. With today’s release of What Can I Trust, If I Can’t Trust True Love, he hopes to reach other people asking similar questions, and it’s clear that the music is already starting to find its way into their lives.
Liam Cromby’s Upcoming UK/European Shows – tickets on sale here:
Fri., 1 Dec. – Royal British Legion | Loughton
Sun., 3 Dec. – Banquet Records | Kingston* (TIME TBC)
Sun., 3 Dec. – The Fighting Cocks | Kingston
Tues., 5 Dec. – Vinyl Whistle | Leeds* (TIME TBC)
Fri., 8 Dec. – Round The Corner | Liverpool
Mon., 22 Jan. – Barbobu | Berlin*
Tues., 23 Jan. – Freundlich + Kompetent | Hamburg*
Weds., 24 Jan. – Blue Shell | Cologne*
Thurs., 25 Jan. – Glockenbachwerkstatt | Munich*