Album Review: Ian Brown – Ripples

~ Ripples ~

Ian Brown returns with his seventh solo album and the first in ten years ‘Ripples’.

Ian Brown will always be associated with his band The Stone Roses, even though Ian’s solo career now spans twenty-one years since the release of his debut album ‘Unfinished Monkey Business’ in 1998.

The seminal band The Stone Roses reformed in 2011, much to everybody’s delight as this looked like something that would never happen but between 2012 and 2017 the band only released two tracks (‘All For One’ and ‘Beautiful Thing’) and these felt a little forced, like they were under pressure to get something out there. On the band’s last tour (which included Wembley Stadium) you got the impression that The Stone Roses were holding Ian Brown back from his solo career and a year after their final show (Glasgow’s Hampden Park) Ian was back in the studio plotting his next solo chapter.

Ian Brown has already released four tracks from the album with ‘First World Problems’, ‘Black Roses’ (Barrington Levy cover), ‘From Chaos To Harmony’ and the title track ‘Ripples’.

‘From Chaos To Harmony’ lays to bed that ‘The Roses’ are just on a break and also confirms that they were holding Ian back from his solo work (which was mentioned earlier in this review) with the following lyrics,

Dried up roses all turn to stone,
Too much poison to ramble on,
Thinkin’ for myself,
With my own brain.

(‘Own brain’ being an anagram of Ian Brown.)

‘Breath And Breath Easy’ is a beautiful ballad moment, the guitar sounds very amateur but at the same time this also feels like a clever and subtle dig at The Stone Roses guitarist John Squire, by the time the isolated vocals kick in, this almost confirms that theory. The tune is most definitely a statement track to prove that Ian Brown doesn’t need anybody but himself.

Ian Brown turns soul on the track ‘Blue Sky Day’, which musically pays homage to Nina Simone‘s ‘Feeling Good’.

‘Soul Satisfaction’ is the closest Ian comes to classic Browny. The tune has hints of his 1999 track ‘Golden Gaze’.

It is the track ‘It’s Raining Diamonds’ which steals the show on ‘Ripples’ though. It is a trippy number that teleports you to a desert island with Ian’s hypnotic vocals. This is similar in a way to ‘The Man Who Built The Moon’ on Noel Gallagher‘s latest release, not similar sounding but they both create an unexpected cinematic atmosphere late on in the album. This will definitely be one of the highlights of Ian Brown‘s set…When he decides to announce a tour.

Ian is a big fan of reggae music and finishes the album with his second cover on the record. This time he tackles Mikey Dread‘s ‘Break Down the Walls’ and this makes for a fun way to end ‘Ripples’.

‘Ripples’ is a strong album which will most definitely hit the spot with Ian Brown solo fans. It is the younger generation that started to follow ‘The Roses’ since the reunion who might not get on with this record. 

‘Ripples’ is released 1st Feb through Virgin EMI

(Review by – Marc Whiffen)

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