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Check out some songs from Ian Lake’s new album

Actor, singer-songwriter, guitarist and pianist Ian Lake released his debut album, What It Is, on April 22, featuring songs that are genuine, playfully irreverent, and sometimes deeply poetic – all performed with a vocal passion that stirs you to feel it all along with him. After the critical success of his debut single, “The Bottom,” a song about hitting an all-time low; his follow-up, the blue-eyed soul track “Easier,” a celebration of self-love and a message of courage; and “Fishing for Promises” about feeling misunderstood and the desire to explain yourself to someone who’s not really listening, Ian is quickly getting peoples’ attention.

The album’s title track and opening song, “What It Is,” arose when the phrase, “it is what it is,” started to resonate deeply with Ian. It’s an anthemic song that rises on the platform of Ben Grossman’s droning hurdy gurdy, reaching its peak with a stately brass section of Joseph Shabason’s saxophones and Bryden Baird’s trumpet.

“Forgive Me” is a pastiche of three separate styles playfully combined; it opens as a minor-key, Leonard Cohen-like durge with three backing vocalists – Anika Johnson, Jewelle Blackman, and Barb Johnston – then explodes into a double-time version with great verve and energy and resolves in a joyous, major-key gospel-tinged finale.

The only acoustic guitar song on the album, “All or Nothing,” fits in perfectly, despite the fact that it was written six years ago. With an ever-present organ in the background, it has the chord structure and feel of a 1950s ballad from the Great American Songbook.

“Uninspired” is as simple as Ian gets: two piano chords, a short rising-and-falling vocal line, and a home-recorded production that makes it sound like a demo – but a highly engaging one. The truck-backing-up sounds at the end are a nod to the process of Ian writing these songs alone in his apartment and the sounds that bled in from the outside world.

For more than a decade, Vancouver-born Ian has been making a name for himself as an actor, playing raw, enigmatic characters. Now based in Toronto, as he continues his emergence into the Canadian music landscape, Ian stays true to his nature, revealing his own personal struggles and lessons learned in his songs. A storyteller at his core, Ian Lake’s true gift is connecting people through the unifying bond of our shared human experience. Powerful, textured vocals, brutally honest lyrics, and soulful melodies give Ian’s songwriting immediate impact and leave a lasting impression. Ian writes about his own experiences, yet still allows room for listeners to relate it to themselves. He approaches songwriting from the perspective that, when we hear a great song, it’s not the writer’s life we think about, but our own.

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