It takes a lot of talent to keep acoustic music interesting but the gems that manage it are saving the lighter side of folk. On Thirsty Hearts, the new album by Whitehorse musician Thorin Loeks, he manages to take ideas from Mumford and Sons, Kathleen Edwards, and parts Kim Churchill, as well as Gordon Lightfoot for an album both beautiful but also brave and intriguing.
There’s driving thump to “Thirsty Hearts” that gives its crisp guitar a movement to make it more than background noise. The rhythmic changes bring listeners to unexpected places and bring in some subtle additions that elevate the track. Flowing into “Bare Bones” Loeks doesn’t even need a drum to keep his song flowing, pounding bass strings while playing delightful melodies over the rest of the guitar, even using the body as an instrument at times.
The dark reflections of “Crossroads” carry some of the heftier emotional tone on the record. The continued use of surprising rhythmic changes in each track shows a fearlessness in Loeks’ composition but at times it can add a disjointed feel to some songs. Fingers dance on the guitar on “Burst Like A Bubble” creating some delicious melodic hooks, and although it works together, many parts feel generic at times on their own.
On the other hand, on the relentless push of “These Crazy Days” there’s an intriguing guitar hook that zigs when it seems like it would zag and subtle violins and down-beat chords give it a unique feeling and depth. Despite a forgettable verse section on “Break Free” the shift in mood on its choruses is powerful and is on a whole other plain sonically in sophistication.
Piano joins in on “For Love” where Loeks explores the depths of his sound in the background details of the track, adding little nuggets for devout listeners to find and dig into on repeat listens. There’s one last look at the darker side of Loeks on “Warmer World” with its gritty southern twang and sombre vocals. Double-toned vocals and the creeping use of effects on the choruses make the song one of the most sonically diverse and powerful on the record, and tease listener of what’s to come.
Even with some light repetition and overly straightforward delivery, Thorin Loeks manages to find a myriad of ways to make simple guitar folk relevant and interesting with his fearless sense of musicianship and composition.