Artist Spotlight

Review: Gregory Alan Isakov, “The Weatherman”

2 Comments 18 July 2013

Review: Gregory Alan Isakov, “The Weatherman”

“Isakov has found the musical sweet spot with this record, surpassing his previous work and moving forward with a new standard of beauty in its rawness and simplicity. This is the type of relevancy that singer-songwriters strive for.”

Artist: Gregory Alan Isakov

Album: The Weatherman

Genre: Americana/Acoustic Folk

RIYL: Blind Pilot, Joshua James, Jackson Browne, Bruce Springsteen, Gillian Welch, Kelly Joe Phelps

Gregory Alan Isakov The Weatherman

I will admit right out of the gate that I have a huge musical crush on Gregory Alan Isakov. Every time he utters the word “darlin’,” I take a moment to gather myself. And it’s been awhile since we’ve seen a full-length record from him; in fact, 2009’s This Empty Northern Hemisphere has been spinning for at least three years in my regular rotation. Released to great critical success, there is a lot of expectation surrounding the release of The Weatherman. Of making the record, Isakov notes, “I wanted to make something that felt genuine. We recorded everything with analogue gear and mixed it on tape, which gives the songs a raw and vulnerable feeling.” He goes on to add, “The idea of a weatherman is really powerful. There’s a guy on television or on the radio telling us the future, and nobody cares. It’s this daily mundane miracle, and I think the songs I chose are about noticing the beauty in normal, everyday life.”

That exploration of exposing everyday beauty pierces through every single song that connects The Weatherman together. It’s a cohesive and easy-flowing collection of material. At times, it feels too perfect; Isakov employs that recording method and feeds warmth and intimacy to produce a highly effective result. As a songwriter, Isakov is the quintessential modern-age troubadour, setting the scene with seemingly simple melodies and embellishing an organicly lush sound with the addition of piano lines, string work and a vulnerable vocal performance. He makes it sound easy, this exceedingly well-constructed and executed treasure trove of songwriting.

The Weatherman opens with the hypnotic and dreamy “Amsterdam,” quickly setting the tone and pace for the rest of the record. “Saint Valentine,” the lead track off the album, is a finger-plucking, richly vintage delight for the ears replete with dreamy harmonies and an effortless lead vocal. This is the track you’ll play over and over for years to come. Lyrically, it’s a wonderful example of Isakov’s ability to combine wit and melancholy all at once:

“Well Grace she is gone she’s a half written poem
She went out for cigarettes and never came home
And I swallowed the sun and screamed and wailed
Straight down to the dirt so I could find her trail

Well I just came to talk Saint Valentine
I never pictured you living here
With the rats and the vines
Ain’t that my own heart
Hanging out on the line?
Oh you’re all fucked up
Saint Valentine”

“Second Chances” and “Living Proof” propel the album forward lyrically with strong imagery and a quiet confidence. The banjo-laden instrumental “California Open Back” clocks in at just under a minute and a half, but represents another upward turn on the record. “The Universe” seems to take on an other-worldly characteristic, appropriately enough. And this leads to the vibrant “Suitcase Full of Sparks,” a standout track that’s classic and lovely on every level - destined to become an Isakov fan favorite. The clarity and restraint exhibited both vocally and lyrically on “Honey, It’s Alright” is counteracted beautifully by the song that follows it, “All Shades of Blue.” Closing track “She Always Takes It Back” rounds back to the hypnotic state that opens the record, providing a perfect arc of style and substance. A sense of closure to the theme of recognizing fragility and beauty that threads through The Weatherman.

There’s a humbleness about Isakov’s work; it’s familiar without being formulaic. The intimacy of his songwriting combined with a beautifully distinct voice makes The Weatherman more than worth the wait. Gregory Alan Isakov is easy on the ears, but it’s the subtleties of his lyrical work that will stand strong against the test of time. He has found the musical sweet spot with this record, surpassing his previous work and moving forward with a new standard of beauty in its rawness and simplicity. This is the type of relevancy that singer-songwriters strive for. Isakov has produced a musical miracle of his own with The Weatherman by connecting with the mundanity of life and showing us his true artistry.

 



Gregory Alan Isakov website: http://gregoryalanisakov.com/

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Your Comments

2 Comments

  1. Hootski says:

    This guy should be a superstar !
    I cannot wait for my pre order CD.

  2. Isakov’s The Weatherman was one of the best albums of 2013. Great style blended with sticky lyrics that carry with you long after the song is over. We featured this indie sensation and more on The Appetizer Radio Show at http://bit.ly/KLCLmF


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