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James Iha: Let It Come Down

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James Iha

Album: Let It Come Down
Label: Virgin

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Billy Corgan has never denied being the center of attention in The Smashing Pumpkins: His whiny voice and chaotic songs define the band, and sometimes it's easy to forget that Corgan doesn't do it all himself. However, the other group members tend to keep to themselves, avoiding the spotlight their frontman loves to hog. Keeping this in mind, guitarist James Iha's first solo recording, Let It Come Down, makes a lot of sense. As a member of one of the world's most popular and recognizable acts, Iha's first instinct as a solo artist is to stay clear of his primary band's blistering modern-rock assault. Let It Come Down has nothing in common with The Smashing Pumpkins, instead focusing on MOR material that's akin to The Eagles or Fleetwood Mac. Judging from the tuneful and immaculately arranged songs on Let It Come Down, Iha could be a subdued Lindsey Buckingham in waiting. The album's first single, "Be Strong Now," is a perfect pick-me-up, while "Beauty" borrows a bit of The Byrds' jangle. Iha avoids any distracting coyness, sticking to straight love songs, bittersweet ballads, and perky pop confections that benefit greatly from his unfailingly pleasant vocals. Corgan may be the chief songwriter and big moneymaker of The Smashing Pumpkins, and Iha just a helping hand, but Let It Come Down makes it clear where much of the enduring talent lies.