Premiere: Ian Randall Thornton Returns with a Spiritual Embrace in “North & South”

Ian Randall Thornton © Lauren Stonestreet
Singer/songwriter Ian Randall Thornton creates an intimate tapestry of ambient folk in his new single “North & South,” a stunning reflection on distance and connection.
Stream: “North & South” – Ian Randall Thornton




Our world is vast and disparate; try as we might, our lives do not always intersect the way we want them to. Some friends and family move apart and lose touch; others maintain close bonds despite the separation. Singer/songwriter Ian Randall Thornton creates an intimate tapestry of ambient folk in his new single “North & South,” a stunning reflection on distance and connection.

North & South - Ian Randall Thornton

North & South – Ian Randall Thornton

We always find a way
When I get lost in the day-to-day
Sometimes I’m close
Sometimes I’m far
But where I am is where you are
North and south will reconcile
East and west will come around the corner

Atwood Magazine is proud to be premiering “North & South,” the lead single off Ian Randall Thornton’s upcoming sophomore album Wide Open, releasing February 2020 via AntiFragile Music. Hailing from Norfolk, Virginia, Ian Randall Thornton debuted in 2014 and has been dazzling audiences with his emotive folk music ever since. In premiering the music video for his stirring song “See You Through” two years ago, Atwood wrote, “Ian Randall Thornton reminds us all of what it’s like to see life for the very first time, instilling us with a sense of wonder and appreciation for our world.”

Ian Randall Thornton © Lauren Stonestreet

Ian Randall Thornton © Lauren Stonestreet



Thornton’s first piece of new music since 2017’s debut album Lineage sees the indie folk singer/songwriter honing an evocative sense of space and musical color: “North & South” is an intimate affair basking in the limelight of acoustic grace. Lush vocal harmonies top an entrancing guitar line as the song opens; no sooner has Thornton’s whispery warm voice come in, than a soft, muted piano adds its brilliance to the soundscape. As the artist sings about physical distance and emotional disconnect, the instruments surrounding him form a provocative wall of sound akin to the structures one might hear from Iron & Wine and Gregory Alan Isakov: Inviting, intimate, and full of depth.

When Thornton sings, he spills his heart over in song. The weight of his words come into full view as the track enters its second half, and sweet strings and muted horns join the fray. An oasis of peace in an increasingly chaotic tapestry of sound, Thornton fills the space with energizing light:

This is significant
I feel no shame in being back again
Cause north and south will reconcile
East and west will come around the corner
Like distant brothers on a phone call
They pick right up where they left off
We pick right up where we left off
Pick right up where you left off



“‘North & South’ is about important relationships that feel like they are drifting away sometimes, with long gaps in communication or connection, but how that doesn’t mean they are lost or forgotten. In some ways, it is about spirituality and interacting with a higher power, and in other ways, it is about old friends and family members that live so far apart. The lyrics personify north and south as friends heading in different directions, but since the earth is a beautiful celestial sphere, not an endless open plane, those opposing directions will always curve around and meet again; and “like distant brothers on a phone call… they pick right up where they left off”.

The first offering from 2020’s forthcoming Wide Open, “North & South” finds Ian Randall Thornton enveloping himself further and further into folk’s many majestic shades. He has shown himself to be a master of the guitar+vocals duet; now, he has proving himself just as adept with a larger suite of instruments. If this song is any indication, then Ian Randall Thornton will without a doubt be a folk artist to watch in the year to come!

Stream “North & South” exclusively on Atwood Magazine.

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Stream: “North & South” – Ian Randall Thornton



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Mitch Mosk

Mitch is the Editor-in-Chief of Atwood Magazine and a 2014 graduate from Tufts University, where he pursued his passions of music and psychology. He currently works at Universal Music Group in New York City. In his off hours, Mitch may be found songwriting, wandering about one of New York's many neighborhoods, or writing an article on your next favorite artist for Atwood. Mitch's words of wisdom to fellow musicians and music lovers are thus: Keep your eyes open and never stop exploring. No matter where you go, what you do or who you are with, you can always learn something new and inspire something amazing. Say hi here: mitch[at]atwoodmagazine[dot]com