Artist: Gregory Alan Isakov
Album: Gregory Alan Isakov With the Colorado Symphony
Label: Suitcase Town Music
Release Date: 06/17/2016
Over the course of four mesmerizing albums, Gregory Alan Isakov has managed to weave a spellbinding aural palette, a combination of vivid textures and tones and lush sonic suggestion. It’s a remarkable combination that has gained the South African born, current Colorado resident the ample praise he deserves. So while there are those that will insist on identifying him as yet another inconsolable shoe gazer with Nick Drake-like affectations, Isakov clearly has higher aspirations, an artist whose canvas is far larger than any of those casual observers have come to realize.
That’s manifested in this latest effort, a seamless instrumental transition that finds songs from his three previous albums given the broad strokes that only the sweeping and stirring strings of an orchestra like the Colorado Symphony is capable of offering. It’s a seamless fit, and if these selections weren’t specifically created with orchestration in mind, the results suggest that the idea was lurking in the back of Isakov’s brain regardless. The cerebral setting of “Liars,” the one new song featured in this set, offers every indication that these musicians quickly mastered the challenge before them, bringing their collaboration to complete fruition through the hushed majesty of songs like “Master and a Hound” and “Amsterdam,” while still allowing individual elements — the gentle banjo pluck on “Big Black Car,” the sudden surge on “The Stable Song” — to maximize the drama and stir the senses. Calling this a masterpiece might sound like an overused cliché but there’s simply no other way to effectively convey the effect. Breathtakingly beautiful in every one of its infinite details, it gives everyone involved reason to take their repeated bows.
– Lee Zimmerman