Ian Fletcher Thornley’s new solo album ‘Secrets’ is an exceptional release, filled with exquisitely crafted and hauntingly beautiful tunes. After playing it obsessively over the weekend, I have also come to the conclusion that listening to ‘Secrets’ is a strangely hallucinogenic experience – sort of like entering some kind of auditory daydream: the music just seems to have that half-dreaming, half-lucid vibe you get right between waking and sleeping.
‘Secrets’ isn’t an album that is showy or flashy, rather, it has an organic, natural feel to it with flourishes of strength and power supplied by Thornley’s expressive guitar work and his remarkable voice. Just like the music, the vocals are stripped down to the bare necessities – soul and dreams and heart – allowing the emotion of each track to come to the fore.
The entire track-list is golden, and the album really works as a complete work of music, with each tune bringing something unique to the whole. Some of my favourites include the soft and wistful ‘Frozen Pond’; the outstanding ‘Feel’ – a track that builds up bit by bit until Thornley finally allows his guitar to take flight and soar; and ‘Stay’, which is truly like a daydream come to life – light and airy – with the gentle throb of the bass like a slow pulse underneath.
Another standout track is ‘Just To Know I Can’ – a piercingly beautiful love song that is infused with both joy, playfulness, and profound longing.
‘Fool’ is a mesmerizing track, with trippy vocals, a melody that swirls and trembles gently as the guitar and bass ripple through it; while the soft ‘Outside The Line’ is a wonder all its own, with Thornley’s vocals and guitar perfectly complementing each other.
The title track ‘Secrets’ glows with a kind of wistful happiness and profound hope, before the album closes with two superb tunes: ‘All Along (For Sophia)’ with Thornley showing off some spellbinding guitar work; and ‘Blown Wide Open’, a tune that kind of breaks my heart and heals it at the same time. Thornley’s voice cracks and shivers here, but still retains both its beauty and its power.
There’s a natural flow and feel to the sound on ‘Secrets’ – maybe because the production was kept simple by design. Thornley chose to record the album in a remote Ontario cabin with producer Mark Howard, and his chosen musicians: fellow Big Wreck band-mate and bassist Dave McMillan, and Blue Rodeo drummer Glenn Milchem.
Whatever cabin-magic went into its creation, ‘Secrets’ is a finely crafted masterpiece, and an album that literally soothes both the mind and the soul.
Catch Ian Fletcher Thornley live on a mini-tour in December, playing several dates in Ontario and one in Quebec.
- How Long
- Frozen Pond
- Just To Know I can
- Outside The Line
- On My Way
- Stop And Think
- All Along (For Sophia)
- Blown Wide Open
- Ian Fletcher Thornley: vocals, guitar
- Glenn Milchem: drums
- Dave McMillan: bass