|[LICD Review] Hartford Courant|
|February 11, 1998, 11:00 pm|
Source: Hartford Courant
PUMPKINS GUITARIST RELEASES ALBUM OF LIKABLE LOVE SONGS IHA GOES SOFTER ON SOLO; [STATEWIDE Edition]
ROGER CATLIN. Hartford Courant. Hartford, Conn.: Feb 12, 1998. pg. 6
(Copyright @ The Hartford Courant 1998)
Sound Source To hear a track from ``Let It Come Down'' call Courant Source (860) 246-1000 or (800) 246-8070. Code No. 7686. Touch-tone phone is needed.
Let It Come Down
James Iha has long played George Harrison to Billy Corgan's Lennon-McCartney stranglehold on Smashing Pumpkins songwriting.
The Pumpkins' guitarist has been able to get in a track or two here and there, but generally the group has been the plaything of blad-headed Billy.
Iha emerges from that shadow on his quite different solo album. In contrast to his slashing guitar on the Pumpkins' recent world tour, he retreats to a quieter, acoustic-based set of love songs.
He claims an inspiration in the grass-roots singer-songwriters of the early '70s, the "Harvest"-era Neil Young and peak Jackson Browne. Still, both the tunefulness and limitations of his voice suggest another figure forever in the shadow of bigger rockers, Nils Lofgren.
Like Lofgren, who played with Young and toured for years with Bruce Springsteen, Iha is able to turn out likable melodies and solid songcraft. At the same time, there's an innate thinness to the production. Recorded largely himself in his basement, Iha plays as if he doesn't seek to disturb anybody upstairs.
He manages to lure in a few Chicago celbrities to help out, though. Among them are Pumpkins bassist D'Arcy Wretzky and fill-in drummer Matt Walker, but also Nina Gordon from Veruca Salt singing harmony, and Adam Schlesinger of Fountains of Wayne and Ivy, who runs the Chicago label Scratchie with Iha.
The touches of guitar and pedal steel give a nice rural feel to the songs, as if this were some long-lost Pure Prairie League album.
Is there an audience among his alt-rock fans for simple, straightforward love songs? Even Pumpkins completists might have a tough time with this valentine. After all, the world is a vampire, right?
PHOTO 1: (b&w), Jeremy Goldberg / Virgin Records PHOTO 2: (b&w)
Credit: ROGER CATLIN