Over the course of four albums with Big Wreck and two as Thornley, guitarist/singer Ian Fletcher Thornley has had a very successful career as a rock radio favourite. To his credit, he's not afraid to mix things up stylistically, as shown by new solo album Secrets. Here, he tones down the big guitar sound in favour of a more rootsy (folk and blues) vibe, though his voice retains its appealing muscularity. The rhythm section of Big Wreck bassist Dave McMillan and Blue Rodeo drummer Glenn Milchem is spot on, as is the production of Mark Howard (Bob Dylan, Neil Young, U2). Those not totally into his earlier big rock sound should give the disc a chance, while Big Wreck fans will dig the revamped version of BW hit "Blown Wide Open".
Thornley plays Ottawa's Mavericks on Dec. 11, Waterloo's Maxwell's on Dec. 12, London's Music Hall on Dec. 13, Hamilton Place Studio on Dec. 15, and Toronto's Mod Club on Dec. 16. A six-city western tour begins in Winnipeg on March 4. Check his site for details.