Gregory Alan Isakov
There is something very old and natural that Gregory Alan Isakov is able to tap into each time he goes to the well of inspiration for his music; instantly, the listener is able to ease into Isakov’s work, made to feel comfortable and at home amidst the folk and country infused guitar, the warm vocals, and the age-old practice of making beautiful songs out of simple means. Isakov is himself a Colorado-based farmer by trade and a musician by interest perhaps, which, considering the pastoral feel to much of his early work, is fitting.
With Evening Machines, as with 2016’s live album recorded with accompaniment by the Colorado Symphony Orchestra, it is clear that Isakov is willing to break from his mould at least a little bit. There are still moments of tenderness and warmth, gently strummed guitars and sparse soundscapes, but there is also a desire to experiment with layers of sound, be it vocal reverb, choral effects, or use of strings. The result is an album that feels as experimental as folk/Americana can get (I abhor genre labels), swinging from the tender simplicity of “San Luis”, a song that would fit comfortably anywhere in Isakov’s back catalogue to the swirl and scale of “Caves”, a song in which Isakov has clearly become unafraid of strings and production to add a certain grandness to his work.
Evening Machines, if nothing else, is a testament to an artist with an incredible ear for song structure and simplicity, as well as atmosphere and emotion and for that, the listener will find themselves rewarded with each new song. On a grander scale, Evening Machines may also be a bold half-step in a new direction that only adds size and scale to an already powerful performer.
SPILL ALBUM REVIEW: GREGORY ALAN ISAKOV – EVENING MACHINES