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Ian Cooke's new video gives new meaning to one-man band

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It's not easy being a one-man show, especially when it comes to a music video. If you're daring enough to brave it alone in front of the camera, it's a good idea to enhance the image with some kind of visual concept, like Dylan's flash cards in "Subterranean Homesick Blues" or Jamiroquai's vanishing floor in "Virtual Insanity." Unless you're David Bowie or Iggy Pop, it can be very difficult to hold a viewer's attention with just yourself and a blank background. One option can be to simply clone yourself several times and hope your charisma is multiplied in the process. This is the route Ian Cooke has taken in the new video for Fortitude, the title track from his recently released sophomore album.

Creating a visual counterpoint to the vocals and multiple instruments all performed by Cooke, the video features an ever-increasing number of Ians, all side by side in the same shot, as the song piles on more and more layers of his singing. For the legion of fans enamored with the Denver singer's beautiful face and high fashion, there is little to complain about here.

Directed by Tom Mares and produced by Big Blue Entertainment, the video treats the eyes to some crisp photography, smooth editing and impressively seamless layering of images atop each other. The mood is soft and brooding, a melancholy match to Cooke's delicately produced music. The video drops as a feature to the previously released, minute-and-a-half teaser video for "A Reasonable Life," which was shot on location at Lost Lake bar.

In that video, Cooke is either sitting at the bar or resting in his typical chair-with-cello-between-legs pose. Similar cello shots are found in "Fortitude," but there are also a variety of face and full-body images, tearing Cooke away from his usual comfort zones. The at times painfully shy and unassuming Cooke delivers striking performances when up close, projecting his Tegan & Sara style of singing out the sides of his mouth. When seen in full body, however, moving to the beat of the music, his usual grace and power seem to abandon him, leaving Cooke looking like the friend who reluctantly joined you on the dance floor and is trying to make the best of it.

Outside of the band-of-Ian's, there are no other images in the video. The production team at Big Blue refers to the video as a "high-concept, low-budget [video] with no green screens." Other than the awkwardly-dancing-Ian scenes, the singer carries himself well in front of a camera, projecting a mysterious beauty and pain that can easily engage a viewer.

"Fortitude" is the first video from the album. Cooke is planning eight more clips, which are currently at various stages of production, and is looking for illustrators to help with backgrounds or background elements for an animated video. According to Ian ODougherty, "Bones" and "The Kingdom" are two tracks from the album that don't have videos associated with them yet. Those who are interested in contributing can reach out directly to ODougherty.



Follow Backbeat on Twitter: @westword_music


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