top of page

I Am In It, Vol. 2: Greg Orrē's Unique Take on Living in the Moment

Article and Photos by Melanie Macpherson

Sometimes when you first hear a song or an album, you make a snap judgement, an instant connection: 'Love it!' Or it strikes the wrong chord: 'I hate it!' Or maybe it's interesting, just 'Not my thing.' That’s normal, especially when you’re as invested in music listening as I tend to be. But I find that the more I ask myself to just listen, without judgement, without expectation, with an open mind, the more I realize how much more there is out there than just 'my thing.'

This open-minded approach led me to discover Greg Orrē’s new album I Am In It, Vol. 2, which is a fantastic example of this at play. When a press release for a new music video, “Middle Child,” came across my desk (so to speak), I gave the song a listen. Definitely not 'my thing,' and yet there was something, some connection I couldn’t put my finger on. It was weird, and it was different; it was certainly unique. It deserved to be covered, so I agreed to take it (and the album it's a part of) on as a review project. I listened, mind open, to something I may have otherwise overlooked in the overwhelmingly full world of music, and here is what I found…

In the first few bars of the first song, there is a tone, a melody, a cadence—something that instantly tickles my brain, reminding me of something. After listening to the song for days trying to figure out what it was, it finally hit me: Alanis Morissette’s “Uninvited”! I don’t know what exactly, but the connection stays, and I can’t help but apply that filter now as I listen to the rest of the album. There are a lot of parallels with Morissette’s writing: a way of taking overlooked little moments in life and turning them into poetry; the openness and vulnerability with which stories are told; the free-form melodies that don’t follow the normal "rules." With influences that seem to run the gamut from alternative to pop to musical theatre and opera, or perhaps from Elton John to The Beatles to The Talking Heads, the album is experimental and artistic, but with a heart of pop.

“Western Sun” is a fun and energetic opening to the album, and really exemplifies the blend of styles. A song about basking in the sun while surfing Circle Drive, unwilling (or afraid) to miss a single moment of being alive. “I Just Want To Be a Mountain” may be my favourite song lyrically on the album. The slightly absurd yet completely relatable imagery of a hill talking to the sun about how it wants to be more like the mountains nearby: cold, hard, and impressive. The hill works so hard trying to be something else, it loses sight of how beautiful, unique, and useful it had always been. It’s an oddly effective metaphor.

“From Ocean to River Blue” starts with beautifully simple vocals accompanied by even simpler piano chords. The song builds as more layers join in, creating a complex, lovely, and insightful look at how everything in life is connected. “Salt pours out of me, adding depth to the sea” is a gorgeous line. Imagining our hurts could contribute to something as beautiful and complex as the ocean is a wonderfully comforting thought.

Following this introspective piece, “Middle Child” is an oddly enjoyable manic spiral into uncomfortable self-reflection, exploring the unfulfilled desire for attention, love, and acceptance that often comes with being an overlooked middle child. The song gets in your face with the same reckless defiance that often plays mask to internal self-judgement and shame. The music itself is orchestral and grandiose, mirroring that middle child need to go above and beyond to get attention. Shifting from personal introspection to nostalgic reflection, “Old Hometown” paints a musical-theatre-worthy picture of revisiting locations from our childhood memories as an adult.  You can’t help but notice how many things change, becoming bigger and better in some ways and more run-down in others - mirroring how we change as we grow older.

“Blood Moon 2” is a more dramatic, operatically enhanced reimagining of the previously released “Blood Moon.” The song, to me at least, evokes an image of a wolf (totally a werewolf in my brain) declaring its devotion to the moon. The wolf pours its heart out, only hoping for a sliver of love from the moon in return. The operatic notes rising in the background, like a wolf’s haunting howl, are the perfect touch. “What Have I Done” is a melodic ball of self-recriminations and promises to do better. Whether these are a true desire to make up for previous mistakes, or another instance of “making promises with fingers crossed behind my back,” only Greg Orrē can tell us.

“Treehugger” is yet another example of Greg Orrē’s skill at turning strange little moments and thoughts into an entertaining and poignant song. Based on an overheard conversation, the question of how our presence is perceived by the ‘inanimate’ world around us is both wonderfully weird and weirdly wonderful. All roads lead to “Home,” where Greg Orrē celebrates that physical place, person, or headspace that brings peace of mind and rest.

“Listen to My Heart” encourages us to listen to our heart and the ‘dance’ trying to get out, no matter how much life drags our feet down. This overlaps and leads into “All of Life is Newness” in its call to truly be "in it" when it comes to experiencing life and everything that comes along with it. I Am In It Vol. 2 is, at its essence, a call to mindfulness and living a life that we are truly a part of.

After immersing myself in the album, I had the pleasure of experiencing Greg Orrē's music in a live show, which always adds a new dimension to my understanding and appreciation of the work.  Seeing the artist perform live lets me compare my interpretation of the music with how they choose to present it on stage. In-person communication offers greater nuance, but it can also include showy distractions from the core message. Music, after all, is just another form of communication.

The night started beautifully with Edmonton’s Eric Kane, the former lead singer for Kane Incognito. His songs, inspired by unexpected losses, featured gentle melodies and velvet-voiced lyrics that managed to rip our guts out, opening old wounds that never quite heal. Somehow, sharing this pain with others felt cathartic. Kane spoke candidly about his journey, and I will definitely be adding songs like “Destiny” and “Slow Down” to my playlist. He also delivered a fantastic rendition of Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Games.”

Next up was Saul the Singer, accompanied by Graham Tilsley on backup guitar and vocals. Always a crowd-pleaser, Saul blew everyone away with his powerful voice on songs like Alex Clare’s “Too Close,” while Tilsley made his strings sing beautifully. The two sounded fantastic together, creating beautiful harmonies throughout their set. Saul teased an upcoming EP release later this summer, which is something to look forward to. Towards the end of the set, Greg Orrē’s talented backup musicians, Kyle Krysa on drums and Emmett Fortosky on bass, joined Saul to elevate the performance to a full-band experience.

Greg Orrē’s set was a delightful blend of tracks from his earlier albums and his latest release, I Am In It Vol. 2, complemented by a couple of well-chosen covers. His rendition of Alanis Morissette’s “You Learn” was particularly outstanding and validated my exploration of thematic connections within the album. These songs translated seamlessly to the stage, owed in large part to Greg Orrē’s engaging stage presence and dramatic flair. His open and friendly personality made the performance incredibly enjoyable; it was impossible not to dance, laugh, and sing along throughout the show. Whether behind the piano or front and centre with a mic, alongside Fortosky on stand-up bass, Greg Orrē captivated the audience throughout the night.

Exploring new things, like music or shows, can feel intimidating when the familiar is comforting. Yet, if you’ve read this far, you likely share a curiosity for the unexplored. Take a leap with this album, especially if it’s not what you usually listen to. Consider checking out a fresh band, exploring a new venue, or trying a different restaurant (or at least a new dish). Embrace the unfamiliar, and let it inspire new avenues of discovery in your life.

Album Credits:

Recorded in two stages, the first phase at The Sound Castle in Viscount, SK, where foundational instruments were tracked, including Kyle Krysa on drums and Emmett Fortosky on upright and electric bass. The second phase took place at Producer Josh Palmer's Saskatoon studio, The Recording House Studios, where most of the vocals were recorded. Palmer also handled the mixing and mastering of the album. The album is enriched by collaborations with Orrē's wife Kristen Boyè, his son Sunny June Yves, and vocalist Danika Lorèn.

106 views0 comments


bottom of page