On his first two albums, the live Lemon (2002) and Tomorrow's Taken (2004), Ian McGlynn revealed himself as an ambitious singer/songwriter/pianist with perhaps more of a sense of style and structure musically than a talent for composition. That may explain why, after writing all his songs alone previously, he has taken on a co-songwriter, Chris Newkirk, for his third album, This Is the Sound. Whether it's the partnership or McGlynn's further maturity, the result is his best-realized effort to date. With his piano-based arrangements and high tenor voice, McGlynn may suggest Brian Wilson to some listeners, especially since there are echoes of the Beach Boys' and Beatles' recordings of 1967 here and there. But he is perhaps more suggestive of another singer/songwriter/pianist, Andy Pratt, that is, if Pratt were somewhat sedated. Although McGlynn's music has pop hooks and what could be catchy choruses, he resists getting excited, preferring the mood of a classical recital. His tempos tend toward the stately when they're not downright slow, and the deliberate pacing married to his introspective lyrics and calm singing give him something of new age feel. These songs are more substantial in terms of music and lyrics than his earlier ones, but his main concern still seems to be with the overall sound of the recording, rather than the substance of the music. Still, he is successful in achieving his effects; This Is the Sound, indeed.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann