Year of the Album — #051
Ian Lawler – “Future Nostalgia” (2010, Independent)
Ian Lawler is a veteran songwriter who has toured and recorded with bands in so many genres it’s baffling how he’s managed to be so deftly versatile while crafting an album like Future Nostalgia. This is music from a songwriter who confidently balances his main influences, crafting a unique adult contemporary sound which relies on his strong sense of melody and structure to succeed. And it’s that sense of songcraft which elevates this among anything else I’ve heard from an independent artist this year.
A few weeks ago I dubbed Ian Lawler as an “Artist to Watch” for “Hear, Hear!” His skills as a songwriter are beyond reproach, as a single listen can attest. And that he’s a teacher of music as well, imparting his skills on a new generation of talent, bodes well for the future of pop music on an independent level, I’d attest.
Future Nostalgia is a perfect name for what is essentially truth in advertising. Lawler’s focus is on the concept that everything eventually becomes tinted by rose-colored glasses as we create nostalgia, false or otherwise, around the music we love. In turn, he takes his many influences, from jazz to pop, and fuses them into a fully modern sound which at the same time sounds like it could have been a part of any number of musical eras. If this is the future of nostalgia, the musical world truly is cyclical, and Ian Lawler has a unique ability to take what in lesser hands would have been a Frankenstein monster of musical dross and turn it into pop gold.
The title track is the album’s centerpiece, a song so simple in its execution that it could be a hit for just about anyone who calls himself a fan of pop music. The sensual horn opening quickly evolves into an upbeat examination of pop conventions. Time passes on and off, he says, but fate’s truly uncharted. You may not know the way, but if future nostalgia has anything to do with it we’ll all find happiness. Or at least that’s what I took from it.
If there’s one great thing about the emergence of the Internet as a tool for disseminating music, it’s that music like Future Nostalgia can find an audience, now that everyday music fans can become gatekeepers and promoters. The bottom line is that this is sunny pop music for lovers of the genre, all of us who have been disappointed with the cookie-cutter nature of what radio and the fickle print music media want to shove down our throats. Now it’s our job to spread the word and make sure Lawler’s music gets a chance to dig in enough to motivate future nostalgia in all of us.
Surely that’s not too much to ask …