Album: John Squire

Time Changes Everything: North Country

Andy Gill
Saturday 28 December 2013 05:51

Time may indeed change everything, as John Squire claims, but it will take an awfully long time – beyond the heat-death of the universe, I fear – to change my opinion about his debut solo album, one of the most pointless releases of the year. Squire's problem is the classic journeyman quandary of facility lacking imagination: he can effect passable imitations of others' innovations – of Jackson Pollock's painting methods, of various guitarists' styles – but has little or nothing of his own to add to their achievements. Even here, one searches in vain for a John Squire signature guitar style, recognising instead the fingerprints of earlier players: the piercing tone of Lynyrd Skynyrd's Allen Collins on "Shine A Little Light", or the country-rock curlicues of the Byrds' Clarence White on "Transatlantic Near Death Experience", for instance. And when he attempts the same thing as vocalist, affecting the wracked, world-weary drawl of Dylan, he just sounds like Peter Perrett of the Only Ones, which isn't the same thing. Or maybe he was really trying to sound like Perrett in the first place, which is no more impressive, but less ambitious. The best track here is the last, "Sophia", a charming country love song built around the simple hook "Sophia/ So fine"; but the most discussed is likely to be "15 Days", which with its convoluted mix of weather imagery, abstruse metaphor, veiled slander and references to the Pistols and the Byrds, is surely a chanson à clef about the Stone Roses' turbulent history. Hardly the most pressing of concerns, although on this showing, Squire's best future option would be to push for a reunion.

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