Ian Brown – My Way (Polydor) 28/09/2009
September 28, 2009 by Addict Music
20 years since the Stone Roses’ glorious debut, Ian Brown finds himself releasing his sixth studio album and enjoying the same iconic stature he had bestowed upon him during his youth. So what’s left for King Monkey, or maybe more importantly what’s left in him? For any artist it’s always going to be hard to push yourself and your music forward. For Brown this has never seemed to be much of a problem. The Stone Roses where perhaps one of the most forward thinking bands of their time and his solo albums, especially his magnum opus ‘Music of Sphere’s’, have continually sought to explore new territories and push the boundaries of music.
On ‘My Way’ Brown clearly seems intent on doing things his way and once again his music is evolving. Musically, much of the album distances itself from Brown’s previously darker guitar work and relies mainly on processed beats and chirping keyboards. Surprisingly much of the production leans toward Hip-Hop. He’s always admitting being a fan of the genre and considers the likes of Dr Dre amongst his musical luminaries. On ‘My Way’ this love and appreciation of the genre fully manifests itself on ‘Crowning of The Poor’ and ‘Just Like You’ which are completely devoid of musical instrumentation and are grimy beat driven tunes crunched out of a computer, over which Brown works his usual urban rhetoric. This might work for him, but it feels too stylised and lacks the substance and grittiness of his previous work.
His aforementioned urban rhetoric doesn’t seem to have wavered either. ‘In The year 2525’ is yet another attack on politicians regarding the state of mother nature and his belief in a prevailing injustice toward the world’s underprivileged nations. This is by no means new territory for Brown, and those who own his previous solo albums may feel the point is starting to come laboured.
Where this record comes into its own is through Brown’s disdain toward his ex-Stone Roses band-mate John Squire. On stand-out-track ‘Always Remember Me’, Brown delivers a parting shot to Squire in the lyrical form of ‘You walked yourself into the wilderness’ and most crushingly ‘Those were the days when we had it all, and these are the times I’ve got so much more’. Apart from lying to rest any hopes of a reunion, the candid remarks are a vignette of closure and distance Brown from his past, leaving him content in his own musical element.
Although, not as vital or challenging as his previous solo efforts ‘My Way’ is still an accomplished record, which finds Brown happy and at peace in his own musical incarnation.
By Chris Cummins