If Damien Rice ever got happy this would be the kind of music he would make. Ian Love’s eponymous debut album is filled with the similar kind of emotive melancholia that has become Rice’s trademark, but Love’s is written from on top of a ferris wheel, not from the depths of depression.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that he has spent his life in an ivory tower wrapped in cotton wool. On the contrary, drug addiction and a spell in his own personal hell have fuelled Love’s creativity. As Rufus Wainwright may testify, the greater the fall, the better the music…The greater the fall, the better the music.
There is a kooky, poetic, folky bent to all of the album’s tracks slightly reminiscent of Simon & Garfunkel, but Love’s songs lack distinction, so the ten tracks tend to meld together. It all goes to create a tepid atmosphere that just washes over you – you can listen to the whole album without really hearing anything that startles your ears. Love has a voice made to lull you to sleep, that laps at your consciousness.
Razor sharp songs included the opening track, Only Night and the brilliant Old Enough has a bouncy chorus that will have you singing along, even if you don’t really agree with his “if you’re old enough you shouldn’t have it all” protest.
Turn Off is another sparky, stacatto tune while Don’t Let Go, and Hear a Song are the most Rice-like of all his tunes. Hear A Song ripples with a kind of luminous musicality, filled with the kind of simplified truths, that make it seem weighty and profound. Black Diamonds breaks with his feel for lazy, sleep inducing rhythms and is a bit more rocky, upbeat and impassioned. Hold Me Now meanwhile features some screechy, off-putting guitar and some sliding vocals. The album’s closing track, It’s Not Over, is a sad-happy song for the wounded or broken hearted – a perfect lament to end on.
I’d put this album on if I was feeling contemplative and needed time to think my way out of a matter of the heart, but it would probably inspire me to cry myself to a standstill, rather than plan a wild declaration of love.