It's been a couple of years since Ian McNabb put out a Solo Album and so in November 2011 he poured out his heart and soul onto paper (or a notebook...or whatever singers write their songs on these days) and in December off he wandered to the studio to record the said set of songs. In the liner notes for the album 'Little Episodes' he says, "I don't think I've written that many songs so quickly in one sitting ever before, and certainly not used them all on one album in virtually the same order as I wrote them. The muse was with me."
And what an absolutely smashing set of songs they are. It does seem to be a bit fashionable these days to get all rootsy and go back to playing acoustic guitars on albums, but I dare not for a moment suggest that Mr McNabb (notice the respect there..nudge nudge, wink wink!) is trying to be fashionable, because that's not and has never been his forte.
What makes this album so good is the wonderful simplicity of it all. The music is fairly basic, by that I mean there is not an awful lot of instrumentation on it, and the driving force of the album is actually the voice of Ian McNabb. I knew the lad could sing but on this one his vocals are so front and centre and they leap at you and draw you into the tales the songs are telling. Add to that the mesmerizing backing vocals by Danielle Laura Perkins on eight of the twelve tracks - she does such wonderful harmonies with Ian McNabb that it kind of reminded me of some of those great bands in the 60's that always had perfect harmony (like The Mama's and The Papa's for example).
I don't want to be one of those guys who always compares one artist with another, because that is not actually fair particularly to the artist you are trying to focus your attention on and so when I say that songs like 'Only Children' sound to my ears like CSNY I hope that he doesn't take it the wrong way, because it is meant to be complimentary, and throughout the album I couldn't help thinking about Neil Young in particular (though Ian's voice is much richer sounding to me rather than whiney like Mr Young often sounds...if you really like Neil Young please don't beat me up, I do actually like his music!).
My favourites so far from the album are 'Only Children', 'High on a Hill', 'Abigail Rain', and I think 'A Heart That You Can Borrow' is going to go on my list of brilliant songs for 2012.
Enough of my waffling though, here's Ian McNabb performing a few of the songs from 'Little Episodes'. If I can say one last thing...Go and Buy It Now!
He Wrote Himself A Letter (Live in Stockport 16th Feb 2012)
Abigail Rain (Live in Stockport 16th Feb 2012)
To Love and To Let Go (Live in Stockport 16th Feb 2012)
King of Hearts (Live in Stockport 16th Feb 2012)