We Live In Strange Times

Ian M. Bailey

Kool Kat Music, 2023


REVIEW BY: Jason Warburg


“Melody is King, it makes my heart sing,” declares Daniel Wylie in the liner notes to this album, and I’m not about to argue. Neither is Ian M. Bailey, who drenches the chiming six- and 12-string Rickenbackers and layered vocals found here in a gentle, gauzy reverb that’s at once nostalgic and inviting. It’s harmony-rich folk-and-country-influenced power-pop that feels like the zest grated off of a hundred hours spent listening to Turn! Turn! Turn!

This is Lancashire, UK-based singer-songwriter Bailey’s third album in this familiar Byrds-adjacent sonic vein. All its songs are once again co-written by Bailey and the aforementioned Daniel Wylie (of Cosmic Rough Riders), with multi-instrumentalist / producer Bailey handling most of the instrumentation (guitars, bass, drums, keys) with support from the similarly multi-talented Alan Gregson on keys, lap steel, dobro, string arrangements and mastering.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The guitars on opener “The Last Chime” hit the mark suggested by its title as Bailey observes that “Love has a way / Of turning the tide” on a tune that’s still only half as Byrdsian as its delicious complement “It’s Summer Rain,” whose loping rhythm is decorated with Rickenbacker jangle and melancholy undertones just like Gene Clark intended.

A Beatles influence surfaces on “Mother Nature,” which adds sitar and strings for a lush environmental message that’s with right in line with the overall ethos here. Then “The Clock Is Ticking” tries on an organ-led, rather Zombies feel that the subsequent instrumental “She Waltzes With The Devil” takes in a still heavier direction.

A lighter touch returns as “Dance Around The Room” builds on gentle, ringing chords, while “Pray For Me” delivers a pulsing backbeat on a tune where airy verses lead to driving, jangly choruses right out of the Roger McGuinn toolkit. More predictable are “California Desert Sundown,” a woozy, gold-hued hippie tale that may or may not feature an alien abduction, and “The Sweet Smell Of Roses,” a lilting romantic entreaty.

The title track leads with sitar and some distinctly Harrison-esque vocals before evolving toward a punchier tone, with some of the more assertive riffing found here. The album closes with less a one-two punch than a gentle fade as “Country Girl” offers a laconic country-folk ballad, followed by the suitably ethereal “The Moon Floats On A Cloud.”

Bailey’s vocals linger on the breathy side, pulling more than pushing, but the laid-back vibe suits this music fine; even the few heavier numbers feel light in his hands. It’s an album lush with harmony and chiming guitars that draws liberally from what one might consider the usual suspects in that musical realm—the Byrds, the Beatles, REM, Teenage Fanclub—while infusing the resulting music with genuine personality and vigor. We Live In Strange Times deploys familiar, classic sounds in service of a journey well worth taking.

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



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