Ian M. Bailey “We Live In Strange Times”

Kool Kat Music, 2023

Ian M Bailey travels further into 1960s sounds, more nuanced as he progresses

No stranger to these pages now, Ian M. Bailey forges on ahead in his reclamation of multilayered tones from the hallowed 60s’ heyday of jangled and psychedelic pop and rock music. As on his past couple of releases the songs are co-creations with Glasgow’s Daniel Wylie while Bailey performs most of the music and vocals, assisted by Alan Gregson who plays assorted keyboards, lap steel and Dobro.

As on their previous albums Bailey and Wylie are quite masterful when it comes to capturing both the sounds and the sentiments of sun-kissed Californian bands and there’s no change here as ‘We Live In Strange Times’ is replete with jangling guitars and sunshine harmonies. However, there’s always been a hint of a shadow about to hover overhead, a portent of less sunny climes and times, the sort of atmosphere which pervaded ‘Wooden Ships’ and ‘Everybody’s Been Burned’, to name two of the less than optimistic songs which allowed that there was perhaps a dark underbelly to the hippie optimism. This sense is perfectly captured on here on ‘California Desert Sundown’, a hypnotic mix of curdled guitar, sweeping mellotron synth sounds and lysergic lyrics sung in a dreamlike state.

While there’s still a healthy dose of Byrds’ like jangled rock as on the opening song ‘The Last Chime’, some of the album is more akin to the purveyors of the Paisley Underground and bands such as Rain Parade, witness the truly psychedelic ‘Mother Nature (Giving Out Signs)’ and the churning guitars of the title track. Both of these seem to speak to the perils of global warning although Bailey and Wylie never resort to singing protest songs. However, there are seams here and there which indicate that they are concerned. ‘Country Girl’ is a very sweet plea (with a string arrangement) which recalls the flight of San Francisco bands from their drug-ridden city to the cleaner air of Marin Country while ‘The Clock Is Ticking’, the album’s most strident song is at heart, an apocalyptic song.

Bailey closes the album on a gorgeous note, picking on acoustic guitar and a lonesome cello (played by Richard Curran) accompaniment on ‘The Moon Floats On A Cloud’. There’s a slight McCartney touch to the song, making a late night flight seem like a journey into a more ethereal world. It’s a fine close to what is, essentially, another excellent album from Bailey and Wylie.


About Paul Kerr 432 Articles
Still searching for the Holy Grail, a 10/10 album, so keep sending them in.
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Great album x