|[LICD Review] Country Pumpkin! Melody Maker|
|February 13, 1999, 11:00 pm|
Stevie Chick. Melody Maker. London: Feb 14, 1998.Vol.75, Iss. 7; pg. 38, 1 pgs
Document types: Audio Review-Favorable
Abstract (Document Summary)
"Let It Come Down," by James Iha, is reviewed.
Full Text (405 words)
Copyright Holborn Publishing Group, IPC Magazines Ltd. Feb 14, 1998
LET IT COME DOWN Hut (11 tks/38 mins)
NOT the stroppy chrome-dome librarian who earned his fame dressing as a clown and threatening journos. Not the junkie drummer who was sacked after the heroin overdose death of their touring keyboardist. Not even the icy-cool bassist who sang "Daydream" on the first Smashing Pumpkins album.
No, the first Pumpkins solo album comes from guitarist James Iha. Who'da thought it? Quiet James, who wore a spangly cocktail dress at Reading a few years back in a vain attempt to get noticed, but always seems subservient to King Billy's increasingly wanky egoscrawls. Yet it might just be this unassuming nature that ensures Iha's success. it's important to note that as Billy desperately tries to shed his Poindexter reputation by hanging with Yank Rock's banal schlock rawk fraternity Marilyn, Courtney, Hanson), Iha's collaborators number Matthew Sweet stalwart Greg Leisz on pedal steel and Fountains Of WaYne wonderboy Adam Schlesinger on bass and vocals.
Staring outwards blankly, yet deeply, among a scene of woodland beauty on the sleeve, the message from the off is that this is a singer/songwriter album in the style of Seventies masters of the genre such as James Taylor and John Sebastian. But Iha lacks the tortured histories and magic touch which distinguished those figureheads, and besides, tastes and styles have changed much in the intervening years. Gracefully detailed, like a lace doily, this collection of soft-rock, folky pop numbers echo quieter Pumpkins moments like "Sweet Sweet" and Luna", but lacks the intoxicating psychedelic bite of those tracks and, without the context of crushing, full-on sonic assault which characterised the Pumpkins albums, the record visits that town named Dullsville a tad too often.
That said, Iha's voice is sweet and strong, and songs like "Sound Of Love", "One & Two", and "Country Girl" recall Big Star's legendary Chris Bell without the desolation, or Matthew Sweet without the misanthropy. The record is a period piece as much as Wilco's "Being There", but when the strings swell up like sunrise on No One's Gonna Hurt You", you'll think it's a period you wouldn't mind visiting from time to time.
Although anachronistic, "Let it Come Down" is a warm, comforting pleasure, like a Jimmy Stewart movie after a season of Scorsese. Mama warned against boys who say, Sl love you" so easily and so often, but my resolve is beginning to crumble. STEVIE CHICK