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[LICD Review] Rolling Stone
January 31, 1998, 11:00 pm

Source: Rolling Stone

Let It Come Down
Mark Kemp. Rolling Stone. February 1998 [No Day]

2 out of 5 stars (Fair)

Remember Bill Wyman's Monkey Grip? Didn't think so. And for good reason. The former Rolling Stones bassist had his place in the pop-music spotlight, and it was right behind Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. The lesson here for side musicians with solo aspirations is this: Don't craft melodies and write lyrics unless you really can do both. And very few people can - there's a reason Elton John teamed up with Bernie Taupin.

Witness Smashing Pumpkins guitarist James Iha's solo debut. Iha has a pleasant voice - somewhere between Al "Year of the Cat" Stewart's and songwriter Freddy Johnston's - and he has written 11 variations on one decent folk-pop melody. But don't expect the dynamic, ambitious crunch of his main gig. Iha's fluffy, unmemorable singer/songwriter fare centers on his longings for love, love, faith, love, beauty, and a little bit more love.

Iha's big weakness is in the lyrics department, which might not be so distasteful if he didn't call so much attention to them. In tracks like "Be Strong Now," "Sound Of Love," "Lover, Lover" and "No One's Gonna Hurt You," the clich?s gush forth like sticky-sweet ooze from a cream puff. "In the morning light you lay by my side/In the evening your love begins to shine," he sings over the perky pop of "Beauty." Elsewhere, Iha meditates on half-smiles, country miles, running through meadows, night falling, dreams of city lights and even a nightingale.

The flighty romanticism of Let It Come Down would be awfully hard to swallow even if it didn't come from an artist whose band has suffered through years of real-life turmoil. Not that Iha's songs should be angst-filled autobiographical sketches, but the themes here don't seem to reflect real feelings at all. Iha has a good voice and the potential to write competent melodies, but next time he should consider teaming with a lyricist whose words scratch a wee bit beneath the surface. Who knows, maybe old Bernie's getting bored with Elton.