ian  james  stewart 

Junk DNA


The Songs
'Junk DNA' for the most part keeps to a blues/jazz structure with layers of ambience as a best friend. The title track is a coarse modern day rocker, where Stewart stretches the boundaries with some dependable riffs and intrusive solos.

'Phosphorus', at 8 and a half minutes is the longest track here, but what a song. Even Pink Floyd would be impressed. The simple piano melody creates ambient space for the other passages to come into their own. One of the loveliest tracks I've heard in awhile.

'Big White Monkey' is a slow rumble of a track, taking on the appearance of a song fit for the carnival, minus the monkey perhaps. I think the under-current of the song is a veiled swipe at America's poor track record at foreign policy and territorial invasion of other countries. Big white monkey indeed!

The melodies within 'One More Time' are virtually swimming in richness. A tune that is easy on the ear, with its shimmering guitar work (perhaps a bit of flanger, a touch of tremolo), it's a late night shadow-caster which only a good dram of whiskey is the only accompaniment required.

'Path Of Lightning' navigates a smokey and hazy blues path, though the song structure is still unbelievably simplistic and ambient. I would love a guy like Eric Johnson to do this sort of stuff.

'Charlie Parker' is a very cool slice of Americana, whimsical in parts, but engaging nonetheless. It's an ode to the jazz sax player. Think Hunter Greer's 'Tales From Stoney's Bar And Grill' as a reference point. In fact, Ian's guitar work is very reminiscent of Ken Greer (Red Rider), while his breathy vocal is tailor-made for the song.

If you're into real mellowness, then 'So Far So Good' should put your spirits into a good place. Stewart's voice is honeydew rich, it's hard not to think of vast rural expanses of mid-west America when listening to this. Not quite The Waltons, but still, this is lovely.

'No Water' is propelled along by a urgent delivery. The tempo is constant and upbeat, not so much in the way of solos, but the song is carried effortlessly.

'Heaven Knows' is just the coolest cat, sort of slinky blues, and as I'm listening to this, I'm damned if I can remember who Ian reminds me of on this one. Actually I know, it's Peter Mayer, he of PM fame. This is a deadringer of Mayer's track 'Michaelangelo' from his beautiful 1996 album 'Green Eyed Radio'.

'Know Is Nothing' features the bass-popping skills of Ian's brother David Stewart, the song itself is full of interesting twists and turns, understated in parts, overstated in others.

'If This Is Life' is a very dreamy affair, the sort of song to listen to when staring out to sea or staring up at the stars on a moonlit night.

'When U Love Somebody' is straight out of the jazz-club, the track features Robert Wyatt on lead vocals, the former Soft Machine drummer and now jazz exponent.

'Slow Burn Dance' is an aptly named track, an instrumental operating with slow grooves and tasty guitar solos, sort of like Gary Moore meets Ken Greer.

In Summary
I've had the pleasure of listening to some quite beautiful but diverse albums of late. The one thing they all have in common is the ample melody on display. Sometimes the less there is in terms of the arrangement also means the better it is, as the phrase goes.. Ian has been quoted as saying that this is the album he's always wanted to make. Without record company politics and interfering executives, I think he got his wish. Therein lies the answer to the musician's creed.. try and do it on your own terms. Simply a lush and (I say that word again unapologetically) 'ambient' affair, 'Junk DNA' is the sort of album to become best friends with.. as I have.. I think Alison Booth (from Classic Rock magazine) got it right when she said that this album should be listened to with a glass of whiskey or wine. That I would agree with 100 percent. Prost!

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A word or two on Junk DNA from Robert Wyatt..

I well remember father Brian Eno's warning dictum concerning unhelpfully decorative clutter:

"every object obscures another".

And here's what is so refreshing about what Ian James Stewart does. there's everything you need and nothing you don't.

Ian's music has a hypnotic elegance. A magical touch - almost translucent at times - but with a warm pulse that really drives the music along with an organically focussed momentum.

Rock music for grownups.


Ian was born in a small Scottish farmhouse, to the sound of his father's accordion. Started playing guitar in the mid-sixties, strumming along to his dad's records - Hank Williams and Johnny Cash as well as the popular music of the day.

Ian's sister Linda played piano, brother Billy played violin, and later his younger brother David took up bass guitar.

Ian started playing in their dad's band. A mix of scottish and country music. Next he found himself in a Glasgow band "the James Boys", playing material by such as Steely Dan, the Eagles, and Stevie Wonder.

After six months with them in Spain, Ian returned home to work on his own songs.

He managed to get hold of an old reel-to-reel tape recorder, bouncing ideas back and forth until he felt he'd got enough possibilities down to write and record his own music in own way.

after recording and touring with many of the best, Ian's really earned this.

Ian James Stewart's music has something to say, and does so in a way I find totally authentic.


robert Y@.

Thank you Robert..!