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CD REVIEW: Ivor Game - Inside
By Chip Withrow - 02/06/2007 - 10:16 PM EST

Artist: Ivor Game
Album: Inside
CD Review: In one of my favorite golf books, a talented young player comes to a veteran teacher for a lesson. The youngster hits great shot after great shot, then asks the old pro for advice. The teacher tells the student to pack his bags right away and join the pro tour.

I’m no old pro, but I’ve listened to a lot of solo singer-songwriters. My advice to Ivor Game is to go out right away and make these songs well-known. These tunes and his way of performing them are top-shelf.

It’s just guitar and vocal here, folks, and it works great. Inside is full of wonderful and catchy tunes. The melodies are timeless, spanning Tin Pan Alley through the Beatles through Graham Parker to John Mayer.

Game’s lyrics are direct yet clever, and they are delivered in a McCartney-esque voice (not a ripoff – I think it’s in the blood for a lot of British songsters) that rises into an arresting falsetto now and again.

“Available” is a nifty opener – hummable and bubbly, and the only instrumentation I’d add here would be some finger-snapping. The delightful “It’s Always Been You” is in the same vein. Game also tastefully weaves wistful and melancholy numbers such as “Save Yourself,” “I’ve Gone Again” and the title cut throughout the disc.

The lyrics to the pretty “Small” seem to sum up the philosophy behind Game’s solo approach, and this song is when I really noticed his nice, uncomplicated guitar playing. Good string work also anchors the bouncy “There’s a Place That’s Beautiful,” which I’m tempted to say has the catchiest melody on the disc, at least with this listen as I’m writing.

Take my advice here – on Friday afternoon, after a long work week, mix yourself a drink and listen to “I’ve Had a Rise.” It’s where I heard the similarity to Graham Parker – didn’t the writers call it “pub rock” or something like that in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s?

Compare “What’s Next?” to any recent U2 or Coldplay song in terms of pop appeal. A lot of the songs on Inside would work with a full band, but selfishly, I want Game to continue doing what he’s doing now.

No less an authority and tough critic than my wife said that each song here is so good it makes her look forward to the next. I agree with her, and not just because it makes my life easier.

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