For Marc Dorian, life includes several strokes of luck.
The Commerce Township singer-songwriter and keyboardist eloquently hits the high notes of growth, chance and connection on his latest inspirational album, Another Lucky Day.
“I wanted to have some kind of optimistic message or some kind of offer of hope. The first song, ‘End of the Tunnel,’ sparked things off, and I was working in the basement when I came up with a lot of those little comical lines. It’s not making light of people going through hard times, but it’s saying that we’re all waiting for the light at the end of the tunnel,” Dorian said.
Dorian brings an honest, thoughtful sheen to his 10 uplifting anthems about everyday life on Another Lucky Day. Filled with an enticing mix of rock, country and blues, the album melds warm, nostalgic reflections of the past with eager, optimistic expectations for the future.
“Hopefully, some people will say, ‘Hey man, that song made me feel good,’ because it makes me feel good to do it. That’s what makes me feel the most alive,” Dorian said.
End of the Tunnel and Vicious Circle
Dorian strives to keep his positivity on the bluesy, emotive Another Lucky Day opener, “End of the Tunnel,” which encounters financial struggles, failed relationships, decrepit cars and lost jobs. A seamless fusion of hopeful electric guitar, solemn keys, thumping drums, crashing cymbals and gloomy bass encourages putting one foot in front of the other.
He despondently sings, “Down on my luck/Down to my last cent/Sold my guitar/Just to pay the rent/I lost my woman/She walked out on me/She took the dog and the damn TV.”
“It has so much to do with 2020, so I thought, ‘Why not add it? It fits,’” Dorian said. “People want to latch onto something that’s either mid-tempo or up-tempo, and something that gets them to laugh, think or smile.”
Dorian also brings an instant smile to listeners’ faces on “Young and Free,” a sentimental, piano-driven ode to the carefree days of youth. Gleaming piano, pounding drums, tingling cymbals, uplifting bass and soft electric guitar invite country-themed memories about high school romances, college friends and boundless summers.
He nostalgically sings, “When Jody was a star on the basketball team/She was my first love/We were sixteen/The dance was on Friday night/Everyone was goin’/We’d all meet up/And sneak a few cold ones/Me and the boys cruisin’ around/Raisin’ hell in a small town.”
“‘Young and Free’ has a bit of a place in my heart. There are some lines in there that are fictitious, but there are some lines in there that are very true. I think if you’re of a certain age, it walks you through me being a teenager and then into my early twenties,” Dorian said.
“This year would have been my 30th high school reunion, but it was postponed because of COVID. It just got me thinking for a second about growing up and into my early twenties and then my dad passed away. How many people say, ‘Sorry, Dad. I should have listened; you were right.’”
After reminiscing about his “Young and Free” days, Dorian follows his late father’s sage advice on “The Time is Now,” a spirited Another Lucky Day track that advocates following your dreams. Propulsive electric guitar, effervescent piano, bouncy drums, sparkling cymbals and sunny bass serve as the ideal confidence booster for making a long-awaited life change.
Dorian boldly sings, “Everybody wants to be somebody/Everybody wants to make their mark/It’s now or never/What’s holding you back?/Take that step and follow your heart.”
“Nowadays, it’s about finding those people who do care and those smaller niches. ‘The Time is Now’ is valid for anyone, and it doesn’t have to be about music,” he said.
Finally, Dorian instills a sense of carpe diem on the instrumental jazz fusion closer, “Vicious Circle,” which melds swift, twinkly piano with fluttering bass, energetic drums and upbeat cymbals. It’s an invigorating way to give listeners a sense of closure and nudge them in a new direction.
“I put that on there because that’s another element of me. But that one, when you get to the bridge, those are jazz chords. I learned that from studying at jazz school, but I didn’t dive into as much as I should have. I still have an appreciation for it, and I’m glad I studied a bit of it,” Dorian said.
Another Lucky Day
“I put out a few singles here and there over the last three years, and it’s been, ‘Here’s the one about getting engaged,’ and ‘Here’s the one about getting married.’ In those days, it was the piano entertainer stuff I was doing, and I wanted to have my thing on the side,” said Dorian, who also performs with the metro Detroit tribute band Your Generation in Concert.
“Life took over with traveling and playing, and it was five years ago that I went to Nashville and did a single here or there. It was always in the back of my mind that I’d do a full project one day.”
For his latest full-length project, Dorian assembled a renowned cast of remote collaborators, including Your Generation in Concert bandmate Takashi Iio (bass), brother Dan Doiron (guitar), Jon Conley (guitar), Bryan Reilly (drums), Jason Gittinger (drums), Bobby Streng (tenor sax), Jonas Petersen (strings), and background vocalists Alyssa Simmons, Tommy Harden and Drew Machak.
“I was able to put together several of my friends in Detroit and a couple of people from Nashville while looking at it from a producer’s eyes. My brother is on more of the bluesy rock songs, and he’s the right guy for that,” Dorian said.
“Some of the other songs, like ‘You’re Not Alone,’ ‘Take a Chance,’ ‘The Time is Now’ and ‘Young and Free,’ they lend themselves to that country-rock storytelling, and I reached out to Jon Conley in Nashville to record those. He did exactly what I was hearing in my head.”
Dorian finished writing tracks for Another Lucky Day last fall and started the recording process earlier this year. It took some time to compile and finalize the different pieces before a spring release.
“It wasn’t like I had to have it in two days. It was more like, ‘Whenever you can get to this’ type thing since people had other projects going,” he said.
Sydney to Detroit
In fact, Dorian’s pursuit of music started while growing up in Sydney, Nova Scotia. Initially a hockey player, he took piano lessons at age 10 and studied Bach, Beethoven and other classical composers as a teen through the Royal Conservatory of Music.
“By the time I got to high school, I stopped playing hockey, and I got into drama. It became, ‘Oh, I think I’m going to try to pursue this music thing,’” he said. “But I was a little bit behind the eight ball because I wasn’t like all the guitar players who learned a few chords and started playing in rock and roll bands.”
With a heavy focus on classical music, Dorian didn’t delve into the pop-rock world until his early twenties. At the time, he quickly developed an appreciation for Vince Gill, Billy Joel, Bruce Hornsby, Elton John, John Mellencamp, Bruce Springsteen and Eric Clapton.
After studying jazz piano at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Dorian toured across Canada with blues-rock bands and worked as an overseas piano bar entertainer in Scandinavia.
“I got this music degree, but I really just wanted to play, and that’s what I did. Then, I started to play in theater shows and later got a three-month contract to play on a cruise ship that went to Norway and Denmark,” he said.
By 1999, he joined a dueling piano company and traveled throughout the U.S. and Canada playing shows. He also relocated to Windsor, Ontario for his then-girlfriend, but moved to Detroit two years later when the relationship dissolved.
“I could tuck my tail between my legs and move back to Nova Scotia, or I could stay around here, stick it out and try this music thing,” said Dorian, who became an American citizen in 2015.
In 2012, Dorian traded his dueling piano role for vocalist-keyboardist slot with Your Generation in Concert. The eight-member tribute band plays about 125 shows year and travels throughout the nation for public, private and corporate events.
“I’ve always wanted to be in a band, and I do love the traveling. I’m more of a sideman, and that’s all the more reason why I feel a need to have my own creative outlet,” Dorian said.
“That whole thing is another side of me, and in one way, it might come out of left field. At the end of the day, I just want to sit down at the piano and play. I’ve been getting up very early and noodling around with the idea of doing a collection of instrumentals,” he said.