" JAMES IHA, LET IT COME DOWN (VIRGIN) Very often, when a member of a rock super-group splinters off for a solo project, the results are disastrous.
And while die-hard fans of smashing pumpkins' brand of dark alt-rock sheen may feel that way about guitarist James Iha's solo debut, don't listen to them!
You see, it's all about expectations. If fans are expecting anything remotely Pumpkins-like, well, they'll meet with disappointment. Iha's outing is a batch of warm, sweet and decidedly un-Pumpkins-like love songs--all lilting love seniment and easy melodoes and tempos.
It is suck a refreshingly sweet record, filled with, sunshiney-- entirely devoid of pretnse or rock posturing. So sweet and innocent, in fact, that Iha is taking a sizable risk by steering so far away from the music of his bread-and-butter group. Smashing Pumpkin fans aren't going to know what to make of this one.
Perhaps most striking and surrprising about 'Let It Come Down' is the warmth and sincerity of Iha's voice. It is seldom that a male vocalist will catch my ear, especially in the plaintive pop arena--Freedy Jonston, Lloyd Cole and Duncan Sheik are the only current artists that come to mind.
But Iha, with his endearingly off-key, slightly scratchy voice, does just that. Straightforward and devoid of mannerisms, Iha's voice is comfortable and pleasuring, perfectly suited to his tunes' subject matter which is love, love, and well, love.
This, coupled with catchy melodies and Iha's soft strummy guitar work, gives the album an overall tone akin to that of a Dream Academy album, buzzing with midsummer evening warmth.
Iha's debut is not challenging. Cynics, folks looking for left-of- center pop, and especially those of you expecting interim Pumkins' tunes, steer clear.
Iha has chosen the straight and narrow for starters, and if the cliches are free-flowing ( and lyrically they are ) and the sentiment syrupy, well, at least he didn't try the other direction, to try to out-advant-garde his main gig.
'Let It Come Down', in my book, does exactly what a side project aims to do:to show listeners a distincly different facet of an artist. In the process, Iha also injects some incredibly positive vibes into today's hyber- cynical pop world, which is never a bad thing. GRADE: A-"
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