Album Review: Intelligent Music Project II: My Kind O' Lovin'
Every so often, there comes along a record that reminds us that music is more than a mere commodity, that it can stand for something and make a real difference in people's lives. That usually takes the form of social commentary, or deeply emotional songs that buttress people in their darkest moments, but there's a small collection of music out there that has been made for the purposes of giving back. These are the sorts of things we should celebrate more often, instead of the latest veteran band going through the motions simply to prime the money pumps. That's where the Intelligent Music Project comes in, a collective of heavyweight players coming together to make music in the name of helping charity.
Written by Dr. Milen Vrabevski, and featuring the well-known Simon Phillips, Joseph Williams, and John Lawton, “My Kind O' Lovin'” is the kind of record we need more of; honest music being made by people who genuinely love what they're doing.
What makes this music so refreshing is the unabashed love of melody running throughout these songs. Even in the heavier numbers, there's a concerted effort to make sure the vocals remain melodic and have hooks to sing. Even in what passes for melodic rock, such a trait is less common than it should be. By the time the long acoustic guitar in the opening title track unfolds into a string section that feels lifted from the disco era (in a good way), the song has shown what this project has in store throughout the album; quality melodic rock expertly performed by talented veterans.
That feeling of yore is present on much of the album, and helps define its identity. It is throwback music, in that sense, but it shouldn't be viewed as backwards. What the Intelligent Music Project is all about is bringing back the best aspects of rock music that have fallen by the wayside. That may mean introducing a horn section, like on “Friends”, but out of place as that may seem today, it's perfectly in step with the heart of the music.
Throwing the word 'intelligent' into the project's name may be viewed as pretentious, but there's something apt about the description. This collection of songs doesn't have any of the flash or bravado we've come to expect, but the understated approach is a smart way of going about business, letting the songs do the heavy lifting. You're not going to hear many ripping solos or vocal gymnastics, but the songs are constructed in such a way that you don't even realize those things aren't present. Instead of relying on the players to elevate the music, the songs here are of a high enough quality that they don't need the adornments.
Track after track, “My Kind O' Lovin'” brings a smile to my face. Every song brings something new to the table, running through all the tricks of the trade, culminating in an album that has the potential to take over your brain without you even knowing it. I thought I knew what to expect from this album, but I was surprised by how much I began to enjoy these songs, and how much staying power they had. These are well-written songs, and it's hard to find any fault here.
The album itself is a thoroughly enjoyable collection of melodic rock, but when you factor in what the album stands for, it absolutely deserves a few moments of your time to check out. I don't think you'll be disappointed.