Guitarist mixes melodic rockers with mid-tempo bubblegum tunes on 11-track debut.
Addicted To Noise Senior Writer Gil Kaufman reports: Smashing Pumpkins guitarist James Iha is on the verge of proving that bandmate Billy Corgan isn't the only sensitive and introspective songwriter in the group.
The soft-spoken guitarist will be releasing an album of love songs and power-pop ballads all his own come February. Don't expect the songs to mimic the epic, edgy rock sound that the Pumpkins have made famous.
Let It Come Down is the name of Iha's upcoming debut solo LP, an 11-track mix of melodic rockers and mid-tempo bubbleg(l)um tunes that are not as lush or highly produced as the Pumpkins' hit albums. All of the songs were written by Iha. Veruca Salt's Nina Gordon provides backing vocals on one song, while Pumpkins bandmate, bassist D'Arcy, sings on another.
Opening with the Raspberries-like power pop of "Be Strong Now," on which Iha reveals the first significant peek at his high, sweet-singing voice, the album also features the Beatlesque mid-tempo ballad "Beauty," on which Iha's voice bears a marked resemblance to mid-period Paul McCartney.
And there's more where that came from:
The full track listing for the album is: "Be Strong Now," "Sound of Love," "Beauty," "See the Sun," "Country Girl," "Jealousy," "Lover, Lover," "Silver String," "Winter," "One and Two" and "No One's Gonna Hurt You." The album was co-produced by Iha and Jim Scott (Jewel, Tom Petty, Robbie Robertson) and recorded at Chicago's Bugg Studios.
In a departure from the often bombastic, over-the-top style of the Pumpkins, the 29-year-old Iha takes a more stripped-down approach on many of the album's songs, including the infectious "Jealousy," in which he sings the refrain "jealousy over you, jealously over me," on top of a Hammond organ-style riff.
Lisa Mo, webmaster for unofficial "The James Iha Website," who hasn't heard the material yet, said she's expecting a more acoustic and country-sounding album from Iha. "It probably won't have the hard-edge sound you hear on the regular Pumpkin albums," she predicted.
Similarly, Jennifer Berry, an Iha fan who frequents the "The Cult of the Iha Obsessed" website, and "always respected James as a musician," enjoying his "different perspective on guitar playing" compared to Corgan, also said she expected him to continue in his more "folky-mellow" tradition. She said she based this conclusion on his previous compositions such as "Blew Away" from 1994's b-side collection Pisces Iscariot and "Take Me Down," from Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness.
"I am figuring it will be along the same line," Berry said. "But James is sort of a crazy guy so you never know."
Although Iha has never released a full solo album before, other tracks he's penned have appeared on Pumpkins' previous releases, including "Believe" and "The Boy," both b-sides to the "1979" hit single.
Additionally, Iha played guitar on and appeared in the video for "Work in this Universe," a track off Fulflej's Wack-Ass Tuba Riff, which he also co-produced for Scratchie, a label he co-founded with D'Arcy. Iha also sings a duet with Ivy's Dominique Durand on the track "Back In Our Town," off that band's recently-released Apartment Life album.