Though Beverly Glenn-Copeland is now a Polaris Prize winner whose wondrous music has garnered a group of dedicated fans, his early compositions, like 1986’s superb New Age experiment Keyboard Fantasies, weren’t originally heard by the masses. It’s only recently that the Canadian composer has become part of the mainstream consciousness; his resonant voice, forward-looking lyrics, and blissful instrumentals capturing a new generation of listeners and crate diggers in the past decade. But much of this conversation has surrounded albums he released years ago. With The Ones Ahead, Glenn-Copeland shares all-new music for the first time in almost 20 years, offering the clearest thesis of his vision yet: that the future is out there for us, and we can capture it in a song.
Much of The Ones Ahead feels like a fuller version of the style he sculpted on 2020’s career-spanning compilation Transmissions: The Music of Beverly Glenn-Copeland or Keyboard Fantasies. Here, he brings in a choir and lush string orchestrations, crafting his music alongside producer John Herberman, his wife Elizabeth Glenn-Copeland, and the band Indigo Rising, who traveled with him on a recent European tour. But no matter how many moving parts Glenn-Copeland juggles in his music, it’s his voice—lush and full of the depth of human emotion, the wisdom of living and being—that shines through, pointing the way through every phrase.
Though Glenn-Copeland’s songs float through their sweeping melodies, they never get lost in their richness. He’s able to create a drastic shift in mood with just the vibrato in his voice or the dynamic of his piano, finding nuance within his broader strokes. His straight-ahead love song “Harbour (Song for Elizabeth),” an ode that strips down Glenn-Copeland’s music to bare bones, mixes laid-back bass riffs with a cascading piano scale and silken vocals that stem directly from the heart. Elsewhere, his music takes a more urgent tone, touching on social issues like houselessness and climate change (“Stand Anthem”), while on “People of the Loon,” his music clouds over as he shifts to deep, vibrato-laden vocals.
But perhaps most of all, The Ones Ahead offers us a meeting place. When Glenn-Copeland sings “this world is our combined imagination…if one of us is lost, we’re all affected” on the title track, his voice is sturdy and resolute, sincere to its core. There was always hope in his music, but it gets stronger with every release. And on The Ones Ahead, he levels up again, asking us one more time to take the leap of faith and cross the bridge to whatever comes next—together.