When I was checking out JD Doyle's May issue of OutRadio, I came across a couple of talented LGBT performers, and one was Ian Wilson. I was drawn to the interesting tone of his voice, and the intricate sound of his music. Today, Ian releases This Is Water, a full album filled to the brim with great music. Ian calls his music Folktronica, a catchy description, to be sure. That left me filled with intrigue, and ready to be very attentive when I hit play on the advanced copy I received from the artist.
The album begins with the awesome "Indentured Servant." Right away, I am grabbed by his voice, a beautiful baritone. In fact, it reminds me a little bit of the sound of Brad Roberts, the vocalist for Crash Test Dummies. This perfectly complements the piano-driven music, which combines Folk, Rock, and Electronica in a melodic way. The music is layered and energetic, matching the intensity of the vocals in this highly personal and volatile journey. The next track, "Crate & Barrel," changes it up, offering a bluesy arrangement, boldly making a song about a breakup use the tempo to show the frenetic energy relationships can bring about.
"Resurrection Ship" pulls the energy back inward, confessional. The song soars with its simplicity, keeping with a strong melody, allowing the lyrics to bloom. Harkening back to moody Folk, "Old Soul" is a dark tale, told with a light hand. There is the feel of Folk, but the piano brings it to a greater urgency, a bright spark. "Bad Ideas Work Best" starts off with ethereal vocals, adding an R&B feel to this lovely ballad. While it retains the soulful gooey center, the instrumentation give it more crunch, a perfect response to emotional vocals. The electronic percussion track brings "Nitrogen" to a elemental pace, one that organically builds, with Ian's vocals playing with the tempo, bringing up with him at the pace he wants to travel. The haunting imagery cuts through it all, leaving me touched. "Bad Wolf Bay" has a hectic beginning, with layers seemingly competing with one another, but at times also feeling in total harmony, much like the relationship the song describes. Complete with bomb blasts. There is a loveliness to the opening of "Se Dice No," and it feels almost classical in structure. But that eases into more of a Pop flow, celebrating chance, the roll of the dice. Then a cool piano riff pops up, and it is time to hear "Made."
From the brightness of the beginning, the song builds in strength and texture as it moves along, taking my emotions with it. That leaves the final track off the album, "Balancing Act." I love this on so many levels. There is the beauty of the song, but also how that applies to the whole album, and what a great job Ian did on the balancing act when he put this album together. One of the truly impressive accomplishments of this album is the way it remains cohesive, a full album, while taking some twists and turns on a fascinating journey. There are moments I thought I was listening to music written by Bob Dylan, and others felt it was inspired by the early music from Genesis, the Peter Gabriel years. Then I hear a bit of Memphis Blues, followed by a bit of self-aware Folk. This is a very special collection of music, at times light and breezy, and at times dense and sculpted. I am so happy to make this a part of my collection, and you should do the same.
You can find This Is Water on iTunes, Amazon. and should soon be on CD Baby. For more about Ian Wilson, visit his official website. You can also find him on Facebook.