Into The Wild and Thirsty Hearts Of Thorin Loek

DSC01237

At just 25 years of age, Thorin Loeks has seen more of the Americas and actively pursued living more than most will in an entire lifetime. Experiencing multiple gold panning seasons in his home province the Yukon, five months backpacking in South America (where he dreamt of bicycling across America), hitchhiking to Portland to bicycle 7,000 solo kilometers across rural Canada and The United States, and all of that with a guitar on his back leaves little wonder that an album would come of it.

In fact, the amount of life experience which includes canoeing down the 3,800 kilometer stretch of the Mississippi River to stop in on musical cities like New Orleans, Memphis and St. Louis makes not telling Loeks’ life story a bit of a challenge.

The last excursion prior to Loeks sitting down to record involved canoeing once again, however, this time only a paltry 650 km down the Wind River to the Arctic Circle. From there, he and his travel companion traded their respective canoes for bicycles and commuted down the Dempster Highway some 800 km down a dirt road to Dawson City, Yukon.

Immediately on the (now) North Vancouver resident’s debut album Thirsty Hearts, one can hear the influence of a neighbour in the southerly direction from us hailing from Washington State.

Loeks’ titular and first track on Thirsty Hearts shares a similar chord progression to the 1998 feel-good hit from Pearl Jam, “Given To Fly”. In most ways “Thirsty Hearts sounds like “Given To Fly” sped up to roughly the tempo that someone listening to the fourth track from the Yield album while riding their bicycle might enjoy it at.

And though Loeks’ vocals don’t match up to Eddie Vedder’s exact cadence, it’s not so dissimilar that it would be outlandish for one to wonder just how much influence Jon Krakauer’s 1996 novel Into The Wild may have had on the young traveller.

Into The Wild being a story based on the travels of Christopher McCandless who made his way (on his own) across North America in a similar fashion to how Loeks spent his late teens/early 20’s. Sadly, in the case McCandless it was a solo venture deep into the Alaskan wilderness that would be the demise of the 24-year-old. Having done much of his trek through Alaska in the winter, a frozen stream had become an impassable river upon the traveller’s return home in early spring. Weak from lack of food McCandless is said to have written one last note before he pulled a sleeping bag over himself and died of starvation.

The correlation of Eddie Vedder to the novel Into The Wild rests with the book’s film adaptation written and directed by Sean Penn in 2007. The film, starring Emile Hirsch as McCandless was well received save for fan outrage over how the death of the novel’s protagonist having changed from starvation (in the book) to poisoning due to starvation (in the film).

Regardless, of the 15 songs available on the bonus edition of the Into The Wild soundtrack, 12 of them were written by Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder.

However, if one were ignorant to the Into The Wild story or soundtrack Thorin Loeks’ Thirsty Hearts may have a greater Dave Matthews sound vocally, or a Bob Dylan aesthetic to it at times.

With all of that being said, the album Thirsty Hearts is an uplifting journey of exploration, forgiveness, mindfulness, and harmony. The entire album is well produced by Loeks and David Tallaricoat at Tallaricoat’s New Westminster studio The Beatcave.

In a lot of ways, it’s a shame that the duo decided to lead Thirsty Hearts with its title track. The album has a range reaching as far as fellow Canadian rockers The Tea Party with their debut album Splendor Solis, all the way to fellow Canadian folk icon Gordon Lightfoot. Though the comparisons make Thirsty Hearts sound derivative, the album is no more derivative than any other artist in 2016-17. Every artist who releases a fraction of their soul in their body of work was and has to be influenced by another artist. In fact, there is an authenticity to Loeks’ debut album that goes significantly deeper than the sampled backbone (of the music) of most of today’s top charted artists.

One has to wonder where Loeks found the time to become skilled enough to not only sing and play guitar, but to also play the piano, kick drum, foot tambourine and harmonica on Thirsty Hearts. In fact, it is only Kaylie Higgs that shares space with Thorin Loeks in the performer credits on the eight-song LP. Higgs having contributed with vocal harmonies and violins on tracks three and five, “Crossroads” and “These Crazy Days” respectively.

The future looks bright for the Yukon singer-songwriter presumably named after the Norse gods Thor and his mischievous *brother Loki.

With the ambition and follow through that the SFU communications major has shown thus far, whatever endeavour Thor hammers out next will in all likelihood kick Asgard.

*In the Norse legend Odin found Loki as an infant after killing the baby’s giant father. However, unlike the Marvel Comics telling of the story Odin did not adopt Loki. Oddly, in Norse mythology Thor and Loki thought of themselves as blood brothers. Whereas the Marvel Comics version left the two at the less confusing relationship of adopted brothers.