Album Reviews

Ian McNabb: Truth and Beauty (Cherry Red)

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Former Icicle Works frontman Ian McNabb entered the 1990s without his long-running band, without a record deal, and, as the liner notes seem to suggest, a lack of confidence in his ability–one that would be bolstered by the minor success of a self-released single, recorded for little money and little expectation. It’s understandable, this reticence; the times had changed, and McNabb wasn’t exactly sure where his songwriting stood in the new scene. So he set about making his music, caring not about the outside world.  “I Go My Own Way,” Truth and Beauty‘s opening number, is an unsubtle finger up to the world, as well as an uncompromising devotion to what inspired him. An admirable stance, but Truth and Beauty is very much a debut record. Stylistically, McNabb’s not unwilling to experiment. That album opener dabbles into the baggy-style rhythm of the era; the rest of the record finds him trying out singer-songwriter fare, the occasional harder rock number, and Icicle Works-style pop. It’s not unsatisfying; McNabb is an underrated songwriter, and the songs are top-notch, even if it feels like Truth and Beatuy is missing a unifying style or sound. The modest success, however, would soon be eclipsed by his second record, Head Like A Rock, which was built around a collaboration with Neil Young‘s longtime associates Crazy Horse. That album would become a surprising hit and would reestablish McNabb as a top-notch rocker. Still, one can’t discredit Truth and Beauty too much; it’s a young man finding his way and getting his bearings.

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