Cameron Lister was born in Montreal, grew up in Pittsburgh, resides now in Boston and plans, like so many, to head west soon. But he still calls himself a Pittsburgh musician, and doesn’t hesitate to visit to play a show and promote his new self-released full-length, Open Liar.
Lister graduated last year from the Berklee School of Music with a dual degree in songwriting and music production, and his solo effort shows the keen sensibilities of a pop technician. The orchestration is lush, centering on a traditional rock setup with guitars, bass and a piano, supplemented at key moments by a small string section and an occasional plucky mandolin. Lister’s influences are fairly clear, and he makes little effort to obscure them. He professes to channel Coldplay and Ryan Adams most prominently; any number of other contemporary Britpop influences (Travis, et al.) could be cited, and Lister’s vocal flourishes recall Thom Yorke.
If the album’s strength lies in its adherence to very professional pop production standards, its weakness is perhaps related. Much of the actual songwriting content is standard as well, and this is a field in which, in order to excel, deviation from the norm is desirable. There’s too much company in the world of Brit-influenced pop to afford much notoriety to an artist who’s relying on the same broken-heart pop tropes as the rest of the field.
That said, Lister is fresh out of college, Open Liar is his first full-length — and it’s one with a number of tracks that could already fit easily onto Triple A playlists. With that foundation, he’s got a chance to gain some life experience and perhaps add new direction and imagery to his bag of lyrical tricks. And perhaps he’ll be known as the next sort-of-Pittsburgher to hit the charts.