Monday, May 22, 2017

IAN McNABB/Star Smile Strong review!


The great thing about Ian McNabb is that you never really know what he is going to do next. While they may sound sonically similar at times, he’s never made the same album twice. Even going back to his days as the frontman for The Icicle Works, he was always exploring new musical avenues with each new release (there’s a huge stylistic difference between their two U.S. radio hits “Whisper To A Scream (Birds Fly)” and “Understanding Jane”). McNabb’s refusal to follow Rock’s rulebook may have cost him a fortune in royalties but it has enabled him to be one of the only true rebels in Rock ‘n’ Roll… not that being a rebel means anything to today’s generation of music streamers. However, there are devoted fans that admire and adore McNabb’s honesty and spirit (and his sometimes ornery moods on Facebook). For an artist to be 35 years into a recording career and still be musically relevant is a real rarity indeed.  And with STAR SMILE STRONG, Ian McNabb continues his winning streak of top notch solo albums – a streak that began back with 1993’s TRUTH AND BEAUTY.  To be honest, the winning streak actually goes back even further than that – 1984’s THE ICICLE WORKS! I’m no sycophant and I’ll admit when an artist has released a less-than-stellar album…  and I’m happy to report that McNabb has yet to disappoint.

In a way, STAR SMILE STRONG gathers together the many facets of Ian’s career and presents with fresh new paint.  This is not to say that McNabb is recycling the same riffs – that is not the case at all. He is merely offering up a smorgasbord of great tunes and dressing each of them in a different musical wardrobe.  Like his BLIND album with The Icicle Works, this is an album with many musical twists and turns. McNabb, if you didn’t already know, refuses to stand still. There’s a confident swagger in McNabb’s music that adds to his charm without overpowering it. He’s the Captain Jack Sparrow of Rock ‘n’ Roll without all the annoying Johnny Depp bits. “Mystic Age” finds McNabb drifting through space in a Pink Floyd-influenced daze yet still sounding distinctly McNabbian. “Enabler” is one of those tunes you should be hearing on the radio instead of the drek that passes for ‘hipster-friendly’ these days. Riff-rocker “Hotter Than The Sun” continues the heads-down Rock ‘n’ Roll vibe of his recent albums with Cold Shoulder.  “How She Moves” is really quite lovely and a perfect addition to the ‘soft side’ wing of this man’s impressive library of tunes.  “This Love I Feel For You” is a glorious Pop tune that might fit comfortably next to the songs on his fantabulous 2001 self-titled album. The truly magnificent 12+ minute “Clarabella (Come To The Window)” will satisfy fans of HEAD LIKE A ROCK yet is definitely its own (Mersey)beast. Oh, I could go on… but I must give you time to breathe and order it pronto! Sorry, hipster kids, not available on streaming sites! 

It has been a pretty stellar year for music so far but it doesn’t get much better than STAR SMILE STRONG!

Keep on truckin',
Stephen SPAZ Schnee

No comments: