Ian McNabb

Ian McNabb

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After a five-year hiatus from the guitar/bass/drums rock trio recordings that were his sonic signature, Ian McNabb finally turned up the amps again for this self-titled release. The result was an album that recalled "Understanding Jane"-era Icicle Works (as well as Merseybeast-era McNabb) in its unabashed love of adrenalized roots pop. Of course, Neil Young in Crazy Horse mode is still the most obvious reference point on Ian McNabb (as it is on almost all of McNabb's solo work), but McNabb has always liked to add a large number of ingredients to his musical gumbo (the Icicle Works' Blind) and the trend continues here, with McNabb cheerfully borrowing elements from everyone from the Who to Boston to Nick Lowe to that eternal McNabb inspiration, Burt Bacharach. (Okay, so maybe the Bacharach influence is only clear on the intro to "(If We Believe) What Love Can Do," but still.) Two caveats: the actual songwriting on Ian McNabb is a little uneven, as McNabb's tendency to wear his heart on his sleeve leads to some clumsy, awkward moments on tracks like the aforementioned "What Love Can Do" and "Hollywood Tears." Also, McNabb's (perhaps financially necessary) decision to self-produce ends up giving this record a slightly less-expansive sound than his previous co-productions with the likes of Bruce Lampcov and John Porter. But on most of this album's tracks (particularly the rocking, funny, should-have-been-a-hit "Liverpool Girl" and the darker, more ominous "Friend of My Enemy"), everything comes together nicely, allowing McNabb to demonstrate that while he may have put the electric guitar away for a while, he hadn't forgotten how best to use it when he took it out again.

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