Ian Thomas is one of my favorite Canadian songwriters, ever. He burst onto the Canadian scene in 1973 with the tune, “Painted Ladies“, and has remained a fixture ever since, albeit somewhat quietly at times. Thomas’s regional hit single, “I’ll Do You Right“, from his 1984 album Riders on Dark Horses, is my favorite singalong-in-the-car song, and a brilliant love song as well.
Three years after his last album, Levity, was released in 1988, Thomas joined forces with three great Canadian musicians: Bill Dillon (guitar), Peter Cardinali (bass), and Rick Gratton (drums), all of whom he had known for years by that time, to form The Boomers. Between 1991 and 1996 they released three albums: What We Do, The Art of Living, and 25,000 Days. By the third album, Thomas’s writing had turned to themes about getting older, musing about past sins, changes a’ coming, truth, and the entire span of life: 25,000 days is in fact, just about the average life span of a man, just under 68.5 years. What impressed me consistently about these albums was the songwriting craft of Thomas combined with one of the most solid rhythm sections working today. Cardinali and Gratton are a perfect fit, laying down an impressive foundation for every song, and Bill Dillon’s guitar and occasional mandolin work are very tasty.
In 2002, after a six-year hiatus, The Boomers released Midway in the fall of 2002. The title intrigues me: does it reference the end of Part 1 of the Boomers’ collective lives (all four are in their 40s, at least, and likely early 50s), or is it the halfway point in the life of the band? In any event, Thomas returns to familiar themes on this album, such as aging, reliving warm memories, the ever-present need to believe in something, and love, but not casual, in-your-20s love, with flaming crotches and palpitating hearts, but love that has lasted for years, strengthening and deepening with the ages. Musically The Boomers offer a selection of songs that I can best describe as laid back, at times a bit too much for my taste, but not at the expense of the musicianship or writing. The Boomers are not a band that’s going to “rock your world”, or prepare you for the mosh pit (wait, are those still around?). My favorite tune on the album is I Remember, a song that grabbed me from the outset as it opens with an infectious guitar hook and builds from there.
I hope The Boomers are around for a time to come. If I could advise Thomas on the next album, I’d say, “Ian, rock out a bit more next time. Let the band flex its muscles!” That said, I’m still listening to Midway. There is a danger in suggesting their music is better suited for older listeners (i.e., 35+), and I hesitate to do so. But my guess would be that a seasoned listener might have more appreciation for Thomas’s songwriting and the band’s amazing musicianship.
Ian Thomas, and The Boomers, are examples of great Canadian musical talent that has remained regionally successful in Canada, immensely successful in Europe, especially Germany, but have made no noise in the USA. This may be your chance to hear them.Powered by Sidelines