Memory Burn

A Life of Its Own

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Given all his many Human Drama releases, it's interesting to hear Johnny Indovina sing someone else's words for the entirety of an album (his band's Pin-Ups collection aside, admittedly). With all songs written by pianist David Zimmerman, formerly of Miracle Mile, and produced by Indovina, A Life of Its Own is an unexpected treat. In ways, Memory Burn is a low-key supergroup; besides Indovina, drummer Rob Cournoyer from Raging Slab and guitarist/regular Tori Amos backer Steve Caton participate, as does Zimmerman's Miracle Mile bandmate Michael Mallory on bass. Far from trying to take over the world à la Blind Faith, though, Memory Burn emphasizes an elegantly wasted, just-polished-enough trip through classic, glam, and art rock roots. If it can't escape the shadow of its inspirations entirely, A Life of Its Own does indeed live up to the title well enough, something more than a formal exercise. With Indovina concentrating only on singing and a bit of percussion instead of guitar, it's a further split from his darker style, as Caton's playing is a little more fluid, suggesting a slightly calmer Mick Ronson (if perhaps dedicated a little too much to extra soloing for its own sake). Indovina's vocals are quite wonderful throughout, meditative and yearning ("Believe" is a standout moment for him, especially on the chorus), while co-producer Jim Wirt's soothing backing singing creates an attractive blend. Zimmerman's steady, descending chords help bring the glam touches a bit more to life, and the overall performances are at their collective best really striking. "Down to the Ground" is perhaps the best track on the album, showcasing the individual strengths of each performer while contributing to the whole, while the vocal/piano-only combination on "My Private Hell" and the perversely jaunty kick on "Stillborn Dreams" are also highlights.