Sound — 9
For River Izzy Stradlin has recruited some old friends (such as fellow 'Gunner' Duff McKagan on bass and Ju Ju Hounds lead and slide guitarist Rick Richards) to produce another excellent record. River was the first album Izzy released in America and Europe since his departure from the Geffen Lable (as 1999's Ride On was a Japan only release) and captures perfectly the raw sound only achieved in recording and producing your own record as Izzy has done here. Ian Mclagan is back for keyboard work (Ian also worked on Izzy's debut the Ju Ju Hounds) and really adds an extra layer to this album (most notably on songs such as River and Head On Out) and Taz Bently holds a steady beat with some excellent drum work on top. Duffs poundng bass lines can be heard from the very start of this record and unlike most of Izzys records the bass becomes a main feature of the songs (but who would expect less of this bassist). One cannot talk of Izzy Stradlin without mentioning Rick Richards, originally of Georgia Satelites Rick has been playing with Izzy from the very start of his solo career and has provided some insane solo and slide guitar work throughout. River is basically a coming together of some excellent musicains and the final product is definately evidence of this with some fantastic songs coming out of the wood work and a wide spanning of genres such as Country, rock and even reggae. My favourite songs would be 'Feeling Alright', 'River' and 'Jump In Now'.
Lyrics — 7
Being the lead song writer of Guns N' Roses, Izzy has had a lot of practice writing songs, although he hasn't ditched his tendancy to be repetetive and has definately not felt the time was right to cut out those long instrumental breaks. At his best Izzy can deliver simple lines with an heir of expected meaning behind them such as the lyrics of acoustic song 'Feeling Alright' which seem to speak of inner pain or past regrets even though nothing obvious is mentioned to bring about this meaning. Izzy's voice has been criticised in the past but I think he has definately improved from the slurred words of his first record (even so the reggae attempt that was'Shall Walk' is too far by any stretch of the imagination).
Overall Impression — 8
One of Izzys best efforts, bringing together a lot of styles and showing that when Izzy left GN'R he definately didn't leave his talent behind. As I earlier mentioned his reggae songs on the album 'Shall Walk' and 'Run In' are not glowing examples of Izzys work but his excellent guitar and punk/hard rock writing skills are showcased on the lyrically deprived 'Underground' and the simple rocker 'What I Told You'. I haven't purchased this album yet so it but when I eventually do buy it I would definately order another one if it were lost or broken. I would also recommend this to any Guns N' Roses fans to see a softer side to this type of music offered as an alternative to Snakepit or VR music or just to any one who may be interested as Izzy deserves more record sales.