On A Life In Song, legendary Canadian singer/songwriter Ian Thomas looks back on a hits-heavy catalogue spanning more than four decades. This is a retrospective with a difference, though. Rather than being simply a greatest hits collection, A Life In Song (June 17 on ALMA Records / Universal Music Group) features dramatic orchestral reinterpretations of Thomas’ musically and lyrically eloquent material.
Along with producer Peter Cardinali and engineer John “Beetle” Bailey, Ian recorded these new versions with the acclaimed Prague Philharmonic Orchestra.
Recorded, mixed and mastered in hi resolution 24Bit-192kHz audio, this grand ambition is executed with both surgical precision and abundant musical passion. Ian rose to the challenge with truly impressive vocal performances, while his ace band added subtle touches that enhance the lush soundscapes.
The album features songs like Painted Ladies, Long, Long Way, The Runner, Right Before Your Eyes, Pilot, Hold On, and more, that were hits for both Thomas and such artists as Santana, America, and Manfred Mann’s Earth Band plus more recent material and one brand new composition, “So Cold In The City.”
Successfully completing such an ambitious project was certainly not easy. Thomas observes that “the idea of doing a record the old-fashioned way and with a full orchestra just doesn’t really fit any record company model these days.” An Indiegogo campaign brought an enthusiastic response, something Ian found “humbling and heartening. It made me dig in and go ‘alright, let’s get this done.”
He assembled a top-notch cast of arrangers for the album, a decision that makes for a refreshing variety in the sound. Ian arranged five of the numbers, with the other arrangers contributing being Laura Jones, Milan Kymlika, Darcy Hepner, Kevin Adamson, Peter Cardinali, and Don Breithaupt.
Cardinali handled all the orchestration, with Ian noting that “all the arrangements were funneled through Peter. He added some icing to my cake. Peter is also a wonderful conductor, as he showed in Prague.”
Arranging for and working with an orchestra is nothing new to Ian Thomas. “I have invested a lot of time in film scores over the years, and I really came to love the sound of orchestra,” he explains. “The idea of this record was to more or less integrate the song right into the orchestra, or in some cases to underscore the lyric. Having these songs completely integrated into the orchestra makes this a lovely listen to me.”
A Life In Song is a potent reminder of the lyrical and musical genius of this superb songsmith. It is a record destined to both thrill longtime fans and enchant new converts.