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The Gentleman Adventurer

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Album Review

Sporting a comfortable, low-key vibe, Ian McNabb's sixth studio album still manages to burn with all of his usual passion — except this time McNabb's out to show off his sensitive singer/songwriter side as well as his more celebrated folk-rock persona of yore. To that end, The Gentleman Adventurer mixes in several nakedly emotive, keyboard-based ballads like "An Honest Mistake" and "The Human Heart and How it Works" alongside the expected (and winning) anthemic guitar-based numbers like "All Things to Everyone." To help give listeners an even greater sense of McNabb's full range, this largely acoustic release also detours into Beach Boys-influenced pop ("Gulf Coast Rockin'"), and even finds room for a handful of flat-out rock tunes, ranging from the deceptively upbeat "Ain't No Way to Behave" to the brooding, doom-laden "Hurricane Elaine." Regrettably, however, The Gentleman Adventurer's obvious drum programming is a bit of a bummer, as it gives several tracks more of a demo-like quality than perhaps was intended. As well, there's also at least one (blessedly brief) McNabb misfire on this album: The petty "Pampered Pop Star Millionaire Miserablist Blues" is a ham-fisted diatribe that makes McNabb sound every bit as whiny and self-absorbed as the pop stars he's trying to parody. Still, overall, McNabb fans will not be disappointed in The Gentleman Adventurer, and once folk-rock fans new to his work get past the drum programming, they'll find that most of the songwriting and performances on this album are refreshingly honest and heartfelt, and surprisingly hook-laden to boot. ~ K.A. Scott, Rovi


Born: 03 November 1962 in Liverpool, Lancashire, England

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s

Singer/guitarist Ian McNabb cannot erase the memory of "Birds Fly (Whisper to a Scream)" from the minds of music listeners. Released in 1984, "Birds Fly" was McNabb's highest-charting single with the Icicle Works in America. In fact, with the exception of minimal alternative radio airplay for "Understanding Jane" and "Evangeline," it provided the Icicle Works' only U.S. exposure, tagging the band with a misleading one-hit wonder label. McNabb formed the Icicle Works in 1980 with Chris Layhe (bass)...
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