Release Date: Jun 3, 2008
Record label: Domino
Genre(s): Indie, Rock
“They say you were something in those formative years”, sang Tori Amos in 1994. Fridge honcho Adem Ilhan’s latest collection, twelve beautiful cover versions of songs written during his own formative years of 1991-2001, reveal not the something he was, but the something he has become. Albums of covers are notoriously difficult beasts; some are chaotic and superbly messy (Nick Cave’s Kicking Against The Pricks), while some can sound a little too over-thought and academic (Tori Amos’ 2001 collection Strange Little Girls springs to mind, flawed despite some superb moments).
Most artists release an album of cover versions when their creative well is running dry or when they need to fulfill a contractual obligation with their label. It’s difficult to imagine either of these situations applying to Londoner Adem Ilhan, whose third album is a tribute to the songs that shaped his own musical endeavors, both in post-rockers Fridge and in his folky solo project.Takes is a sparse affair that leans heavily on acoustic guitars and Adem’s gentle vocals. A version of Bedhead’s “Bedside Table” opens the album, with Adem picking out a gentle acoustic pattern on his guitar and laying down a pleasant campfire vocal.
Listening to Adem Illhan’s 2004 solo debut, Homesongs, is an exercise in reflection, relaxation and earnest questioning. The British troubadour gracefully pairs the inventive rhythms of his work with the post-rock trio Fridge with warm acoustics, while his aching croon (somewhere between Richard Hawley and Caetano Veloso) explores universal concepts of friendship, regret and comfort. 2006’s Love and Other Planets further teases the divide between harmonic electronics and acoustics, exploring themes to make twenty-something nerds swoon: romance and outer space.