One of reviewing’s most appealing aspects is discovering artists I have never heard before. AUK have opened my ears to many such musicians but one who made a deep impression both instantly and lasting is Ian M Bailey. This Lancashire-based singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer has been a part of the north-west of England music scene for many years. But listen to his music and be whisked from Lancashire to Laurel Canyon. At the core is Bailey’s jangly Rickenbacker backed by a firm rhythm line around which, in various hues and textures, flow lush harmonies, keys and some very fine steel guitar. The Byrds and Gene Clark are the foundations upon which sit REM, The Jayhawks and The Doors. Top that off with The Beatles and The Association and you are in the house of Ian M Bailey.
Bailey has recorded several solo albums to critical acclaim, being particularly productive over the past couple of years. In 2021 he released ‘Songs To Dream Along To’ following up last year with ‘You Paint The Pictures’. Ian partnered with Daniel Wylie, formerly of Cosmic Rough Riders. to co-write both records.
Just take the opening track on that 2021 release, ‘This Is Not A Feeling’. His urgent acoustic, chiming electric guitars create a sound that could come from the 1970s but with a contemporary feel. Bailey rocks too. From the same album ‘I’m Not The Enemy’ pulsates to an early REM garage rock beat. The Rickenbacker has moved on a couple of decades as have the harmonies. Throughout he ensures the rich melody reigns supreme as he serves up a delicious diet of melodious pop and rock. Sitar picking on instrumental ‘Midday At Hope Lodge’ comes as a surprise but for a cosmic interlude it is highly effective.
‘You Paint The Pictures’ picks up where ‘Songs To Dream Along To’ left off. And perhaps that sums up Bailey’s music. However life is treating you, it cannot do any harm to step back, reflect and let yourself go. With Ian M Bailey’s rich melodies, harmonies around his dazzling soundscape you are in very good hands.
Bailey does not do long tours but when he does perform he is worth seeing. If his live shows are infrequent he is busy writing and recording. A new album, again co-written with Daniel Wylie, due in November with another in the pipeline for next year. If his current catalogue is any guide and your tastes swing to melodious West Coast jangling guitar runs and gentle harmonies then Ian M Bailey is very well worth checking out.