Ian Penn is an old soul evoking the wisdom of timeless folk music legends like Bob Dylan, and Pete Seeger. Inspired to write by Canadian icon Neil Young’s album Out on the Weekend, Penn assembled his latest batch of songs for his EP, Wild Abandon, with the intention of inspiring listeners to reflect on their own lives and experiences. Penn’s hope is that listeners will see themselves in his songs, a similar wish, he notes, to that expressed by Joni Mitchell in a rare interview with the CBC: “If you listen to that music and you see yourself, it will probably make you cry and you’ll learn something about yourself and now you’re getting something out of it.” The end result of Wild Abandon is a collection of what the now Manila-based performer likes to call “road songs,” six thoughtful, simple and contemplative songs that he envisions people taking on long road trips as a soundtrack to landscapes unfolding around them as they drive.
Home-schooled, Penn grew up surrounded by music lovers and musicians. His dad taught him to play the guitar, starting with John Denver’s Leavin’ on a Jet Plane. On Sunday mornings, young Ian would wake to the sound of Sam Cooke’s voice blasting on the stereo. He played bass in high school bands, covering The Beatles for fun, but guitar and harmonica were his weapons of choice, with Johnny Cash, Buddy Holly and Sam Cooke his preferred influences. Unable to relate to pop or metal, he instead went back to his roots – the Sunday mornings of his life – and started writing his own material at age 16. Everyday life inspires his songs: his countryside surroundings of trees, sky, mountains and rivers. “The songs that I write, they are my reflections and observations. It’s all poetry in motion, you see.”