I have to begin this review with a confession, when I listened to this CD for the first time I was disappointed, in fact I would go as far as to say that I didn't like it. A combination of the voice being too whiney and there being something about the commercialised familiar country beats that just put me off the album, not to mention the fact that the title of every other song on the album had "love" in the title. And so I wrote the beginnings of a mediocre review, how I had skipped through most of the songs, rolling my eyes at the attempt at sincerity that Ian McFeron had added as an afterthought to each song, while occasionally throwing in a scathing remark to imply that this was one album that you could avoid hearing and would not be at any loss.
Later that day I was wasting time, desperately trying to find a distraction that would mean I didn't have to subject myself to reviewing another half-assed attempt at stardom. When a song came on shuffle from my computer. It was Dylan before the pangs of age, Brett Dennen with more vocal substance, more up-beat country than Ryan Adams, more melodic and paced than Ray LaMontagne, and with the same cutting lyrics as Amos Lee. It was Love Me Like You Should by the Ian McFeron Band. I went back to my half crafted sordid original review and deleted it, then started again, listening to the album again from start to finish, then again, this time hearing the undercover folk soul edge woven through every song, from heartbreak soul-wrenching grief to comic.
Ian McFeron Band launched off the back of their debut Don't Look Back in 2003, since then the band has enjoyed a plethora of releases with A Long Way To Freedom (2005), Fistfight With Father Time (2006), and Let It Ride (2007). The newest album Love Me Blue released in early 2009 has granted the band vast success comparable to previous releases.
The latest release propelled the band into an established member of the Seattle music scene, where the Seattle radio station The Mountain discovered them, later knocking out songs by Ray LaMontagne, Modest Mouse and Bo Deans with Love Me Twice in the New Music Throwdown, a weekly listener-rated ranking of the best new songs.
The lyrical contrast that varies from song to song is phenomenal, few new bands manage to be so successfully diverse, after a few melancholy tracks, 4/5 of which mention "love" in their title, the album reaches The Monkey With The Fancy Clothes an almost bizarrely up beat country folk tune, verging on satirical depiction of modern society and the influence of Man on the environment. This catchy light hearted track shows the lyrical abilities that McFeron has to offer, before falling back into Another Way To Bleed a downplayed underrated song that possesses a melodious woeful melancholy that encapsulates another aspect of McFeron's character that has been previously uncharted.
Never the less Love Me Blue is an album that is definitely worth hearing, and don't, unlike me, get put off by the first listening. It seems to get better and find more prominent meaning every time I play it. The only point I could repeat from my original, now deleted, review is the absence of dynamism and attachment that occasionally radiates from these songs. I have this suspicion that McFeron would be better suited to an entirely solo career, perhaps he writes songs with this in mind and then brings them to his band to play. Unfortunately, along the way from the desk of the gritty guitar soloist to the bands practice room the charisma and exceptional ability that evidently was once present from this new age Dylan-esq Seattle local is misplaced.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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