Ian Shaw – The Theory Of Joy

Review by Dominic Reilly

Although it was released in 2016 there must be some sort of poetic license involved in reviewing an album. Certain before the artist releases another. The Theory Of Joy (nice title) is a collection of songs from Ian Shaw. Ian is one of the more beloved singers / performers in the UK. He is no stranger to Ireland and regularly makes visits here to play along side The Phil Ware Trio.

This album is primarily a collection of covers but there are also a few of Ian’s own compositions among the mix. That’s what Ian Shaw does best; he’s a great interpreter of really good songs. I have to admit that it took me a couple of listens before I started to identify what Ian was bringing to the song. Separate from the story behind the lyrics Ian has an ability to convey the message is his voice and in his style. It’s quite touching actually. I have seen Ian live on a couple of occasions and he is a great entertainer but his true emotional sentiment is reserved for this studio recording.

There are twelve songs on this album and straight away I declare I wish he hadn’t included the Lionel Bart number from Oliver You’ve Got To Pick A Pocket Or Two. There I said it, it’s out now I can go on with my life now! What I am glad he included was the Bowie composition Where Are We Now. A wonderful version arranged by Ian as a pure ballad that I think works even better then the original version.

Legrand/Bergman penned How Do You Keep The Music Playing that was a huge hit for Patti Austin back in the eighties. A favoured song of mine but Ian again manages to bring a real focus to the lyrics and make them thought provoking. In the sleeve notes Shaw describes his own song My Brother has something we all have and that he wrote it in twenty minutes. However he is being too modest here and although it might be a song we can all relate to the simplicity of the songs is a powerful tool and translates into real sibling bonds.

A true measure of the talent that Ian processes is his ability for phasing. All This And Betty Too is the perfect song to help showcase this. A witty and clever song it moves along at a pace and yet seems so effortless to the singer. On any good album there is always room for a Jacques Brel song. So this being a very good album Shaw doesn’t disappoints. If You Go Away is Ian’s tribute to the master of vocal passion. A wonderful tune sang wonderfully by Ian.

Overall there are several tracks on this album that delight. Don’t be fooled that I seem to be highlighting ballads on this album there is a great mixture of up tempo tunes along with a moody blues (not the group) tune from Capaldi / Winwood The Low Spark Of High Heeled Boys. A very easy album to add to your collection and if you don’t possess an Ian Shaw album before now this is a great place to start.

A true measure of the talent that Ian processes is his ability for phasing. All This And Betty Too is the perfect song to help showcase this. A witty and clever song it moves along at a pace and yet seems so effortless to the singer. On any good album there is always room for a Jacques Brel song. So this being a very good album Shaw doesn’t disappoints. If You Go Away is Ian’s tribute to the master of vocal passion. A wonderful tune sang wonderfully by Ian.

Overall there are several tracks on this album that delight. Don’t be fooled that I seem to be highlighting ballads on this album there is a great mixture of up tempo tunes along with a moody blues (not the group) tune from Capaldi / Winwood The Low Spark Of High Heeled Boys. A very easy album to add to your collection and if you don’t possess an Ian Shaw album before now this is a great place to start.

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