Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Kid is Alright-Gregory Alan Isakov

The first memory I have of Gregory Alan Isakov was from 1986. I was four and he was seven and we were trudging through a forest in the suburbs of Philadelphia right by our apartment building, with his two brothers and our parents trailing close behind. I was picking up bones and pretending they were from dinosaurs, and he kindly and graciously was going along with it. Seeing him 24 years later on stage at Sixth and I Synagogue in Washington, DC, I was amazed to see not a lot has changed. That kind and gracious personality shone through as he endeared the audience to him in between songs with his short, soft-spoken anectdotes. His love of nature that we both shared as children in the woods had not fleeted but was very much alive in his lyrics and melodies. He was still the same old Greg, except for one thing…he was a brilliant singer/songwriter, having toured with Ani DiFrano last year, now shooting into popularity faster than he could travel on his own national tour.

Gregory Alan Isakov’s sound is a hybrid of the best parts of things you’ve heard before, coming together, to form a new brilliant version. His Dylanesque aura and guitar rhythms combine with a voice and bittersweet lyrics reminiscent of Ryan Adams’ "Heartbreaker". At times you can even hear Springsteen’s raspy voice and Bright Eyes’ desperate sorrow.

All of this combined makes a perfect bathtub vinyl, something to set on your turntable, drop the needle down, run a bath, and let the lyrics and water consume you. Evelyn is my favorite and by far the most upbeat, but That Moon Song and The Stable Song are perhaps his most quintessential and adored. Enjoy this new artist and perhaps even catch him as he makes his way around the country on his “This Empty Northern Hemisphere” tour, continuing through August. Or, just listen to him as he performs That Moon Song below.

-Kendra Rubinfeld

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