James Iha - Look to the Sky
Just 15 short years since his last solo release James Iha returns with Look to the Sky, an album that is more expansive musically and sheds some light on the journey he has taken during the intervening years.
To many, Iha will forever be known as a member of the Smashing Pumpkins during their heyday; to some he’ll be recognised for his contributions to A Perfect Circle. A smaller number will know his soundtrack work. In contrast to his band work, Iha’s first solo release was a quiet acoustic affair that at times conspired towards understated beauty. It was perceived by some as being the antidote to being in the Pumpkins at a time when signs of Billy Corgan’s desire for the overblown were slowly coming to the surface.
Look to the Sky is more rounded. Whilst there are acoustic skeletons to some of these songs they are filled with richer, textured musical backdrops with a leaning towards synthesisers. There’s a gentle range at work here. Whilst he might not be considered the greatest vocalist, his voice strangely lends itself equally well to both the jaded cynical and the upbeat optimist. It’s perhaps damning with faint praise to describe 'Speed of Love' as FM-friendly; similarly, 'New Year’s Day' might surpass many listeners tolerance for jolly but like its peers it demonstrates a craft and a drive that makes this a charming and rewarding listen.