ian  james  stewart 

Junk DNA

By Kev Rowland (MLWZ)

For those trying to work out why the name is familiar, it is because Ian has been at the helm of Strangeways for many years. But here he has taken all of his influences and released a solo album that is quite different from what he has been doing with the band.

This album screams maturity, with a heart and groove that is missing from the shallowness of much that is played on the radio these days. While that can be described as plastic, this instead is a rich mahogany that has been lovingly polished time and again so that the patina is rich and full of depth.


There are some wonderfully deft touches on guitar here and there, and feels in many ways as if it has come from the early Seventies when music was valued for it's own sake as opposed to being a background for something else. Indeed, I always found myself failing if I tried to play this in that way as I just forgot what it was I was supposed to be doing and drank deeply from this well instead.

If that wasn't enough, then look no further than "When You Love Somebody" where Robert Wyatt asked Ian if he could provide lead vocals. Having heard the demo tracks he asked Ian if it would be okay if he contributed! I know why Robert wanted to be involved, as the layering and finesse has much in common with his own work.

This is definitely one for those who like their music to have thought, presence and grace.

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