Artist Review from

[1350x480] IAN PENN

It’s not readily apparent I know, but I’m a folk music junkie. I’m in a love-and-hate tango with the form: the love is easy, but the hate—though that’s maybe too hyperbolic a word—springs from the fact that I’m also a forward-looking guy, one who looks at the folk revival cockeyed with a magnifying glass. Other critics’ barometers in appraising music rely on gut-level effect,  on immediate impact instead of crawling introspection, and though some folk is able to do both that (hello, The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan), it is mostly for serious types with a tito bent. All that said, “Headback Home,” Lilystars recruit Ian Penn’s new single, marries the inherent straightforwardness of the form with a twee disposition. The tried-and-tested hallmarks of the genre are there—the surefooted strumming, the guitar-voice unison melody, the nature imagery—though, in my head, a bit of a detour wouldn’t have hurt: perhaps a short bridge, maybe the monotonous harp part soaring to some elsewhere altitude, or a dab of vocal harmony. Or, you know, perhaps not. What Penn has got is a good, easy listen, and sometimes that’s all we need. I, for one, am piqued enough and can’t wait to experience the other colors in the man’s palette. –


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