"Listening through Driver's Eyes" - Ian McDonald's new album. Review by Alan Hewitt.

Ian McDonald's musical reputation is immense; a founding member of King Crimson and Foreigner the diversity of these two musical entities only serves to emphasise the sheer breadth of Ian's talents all of which are combined here on his long overdue debut solo album.

Overture opens the album with an instrumental mini symphony on which Ian uses his various instrumental talents to paint the initial scenery on the musical canvas that is his album. In your hands and You are a part of me display Ian's pop sensibilities with two tracks that definitely hark back to classic Foreigner material and that is no mean achievement. Sax Fifth Avenue is a further opportunity for Ian to work out on a variety of instruments including saxophone, acoustic guitar and piano a delightfully soulfully yet sassy little number!

Forever and ever is another angst driven power ballad excellently crafted and sporting a set of lyrics by master wordsmith John Wetton no less and this is in turn followed by Saturday night in Tokyo perhaps a hark back to Ian's recent jaunt there with Steve and yet the track itself harks back to the late Seventies Punk Pop and certainly is a contrast to the earlier tracks! Hawaii is another smooth laid back number which wouldn't be out of place as part of a film soundtrack. Straight back to you is another hefty dose of classic AOR a potential single if Ian chose to release it and the following track If I was clearly demonstrates exactly why Foreigner were so successful; this is a classy song with a great lyrical hook which was what Foreigner were all about.

Demimonde sees Ian reunited with his old colleague Mike Giles in a jazzy instrumental piece which won't fail to get your toes tapping and the album is finally rounded off by Let there be light which sees the King Crimson connection continued with the lyrics being written by Peter Sinfield which are accompanied by a dramatic musical background which brings the album to a satisfying conclusion.

So, there you have it: Ian's solo album is, to use one of Steve Hackett's phrases; "chock full of pals" and their combined talents certainly make this an album to be reckoned with and one which fans of carefully crafted rock will enjoy and one which aficionados of any of Ian's previous outfits will instantly take to their hearts - well done, Ian!

Ian McDonald "Driver's Eyes", Camino Records CAMCD18

Click to see full-size picture