Ian Randall Thornton is a multi-instrumentalist, singer-songwriter, and composer from Norfolk, VA. Known for his honest, poetic lyrics, conceptual themes, and stunning production, Thornton has forged his own path, while honing in an unparalleled sound. Thornton began his musical exploration at age seven, as he delved into classical music first, playing upright bass in orchestras and jazz bands from a very young age. As he progressed through adolescence, he expanded his sonic palate through playing bass in multiple bands and genres including punk, indie rock, folk, jam bands, and post-rock.
At age 19, Thornton branched out into his solo career and started writing the songs that led him down the road that he's on today. With a unique voice and writing style that embodies the essence of a storyteller with the depth and attention to detail of a true artist, he released his debut EP, End Where You Begin, in 2014, garnering local acclaim and launching him into several years of touring around Europe and North America. End Where You Begin is a collection of songs that focused on the beauty and ache of constantly shifting relationships, inviting the listener into a contemplative reflection on the value, difficulty, and cost of love.
Thornton’s debut full-length album, Lineage, carries the same essence of the EP, imbued with the raw simplicity of storytelling, along with the addition of new musical elements, instrumental complexity, and heightened production. It's a stunning album about family and heritage, and the tension between honoring where and who you came from, while also sifting through the faults and weaknesses you have inherited. He has a masterful skill of posing simple questions within his music that draw you into the cinematic essence of his work. His weighty lyrical content juxtaposed with effortless musicality draws the listener in from the start, and never lets up. Lineage was a breakout project of sorts, garnering attention from major publications like Billboard, American Songwriter and Consequence of Sound, while landing his breakout single "Do You Rise" on Spotify’s coveted playlist, The Most Beautiful Songs In The World, which opened him up to an entire new audience overnight.
Ian still lives in Norfolk, Virginia, and is now set to release his sophomore album Wide Open in February 2020 through the New York-based record label, AntiFragile. This project is centered around the theme of finding peace through the humble practice of letting go. Thornton talks about the record saying, “I found myself, along with my family and friends, in an extremely stressful season, and my only solution was to start creating music that fought against the stress and anxiety that so many of us tolerate in our life. I set out to write a record about peace but quickly found myself writing about letting go. Sometimes it's our feeble attempt to grasp for "control" that drives most of us insane, and it's the humble practice of letting go of that so-called "control" that leads us back to finding peace in the middle of chaos."
This record is a slight departure from Thornton's previous musical stylings, finding his sound progressing and maturing into his best work yet, while still tipping the hat to his folk Americana roots. These songs sound nostalgic and familiar in some ways, yet feel like the exploration of a completely new genre altogether. Each track is unique and distinctive while carrying a similar tone and continuity, indicative of Thornton's typical approach to writing cohesive albums. Lush orchestration, intricate layered guitars, and hushed vocals create a beautifully calming experience that leaves you feeling content and comforted. Each song is a deep breath of fresh air that seems to release the tension in your chest, and warm your heart with a knowing sense that everything is going to be alright.