zondag 11 mei 2014

The weatherman. Gregory Alan Isakov

In the past years I saw Gregory Alan Isakov play in the Q-Bus in Leiden twice. One evening he had his birthday and his parents had come over to celebrate. On one of the evenings he was accompanied by Ramaya Soskin who played two beautiful songs from his own album ´All in good time´. Recently I found out that Isakov had released a new album called The Weatherman in 2013, which I had missed. So to make amends I started listening and really liked what I was hearing.

The weatherman is an album in the singer-songwriter tradition, with songs that are all modest. The accompaniment is sort of subdued, which gives the whole album a distinct sound. I can totally imagine that someone not really into this kind of music, is turned off after two or three songs. Where as for me the fun is only starting at this point. But then it is true that nothing very exciting is going on on The weatherman. Isakov sings in a modest way, with his darkish, soft voice, while all instrumentation has the same subdued modesty. But when I hear ''O' city lights', I totally melt. What a beautiful song this is! The sweet melody, slowly unfolds. Melancholy all over. The same goes for opening song 'Amsterdam' in which a piano does the solo notes.

The U.S. has a truckload of singers (m/f) in this segment of music, the singer-songwriter, folk, roots, alt.americana, that I would never hear off nor from, were it not that Hans van Polanen brings them to the Q-Bus in Leiden and tend to go and watch/listen several times a year. Despite the fact that I've never heard a note from the artists in question. Gregory Alan Isakov is one of them. By now I have three of his albums in the house. The weatherman is his fifth album and the first in four years time he released.

What I like about The weatherman and makes the album stands out for me, is the way the songs flow. Almost all have this fluent way they progress. Isakov sings slow, so holds his notes, while in the background small accents are played, e.g. on a lone banjo or violin. When a song doesn't flow so easily like 'Honey, it's alright' with long stops in the singing, it stands out immediately. The female, very soft, ooooh in the background reminds me of Leonard Cohen, but then it is this section of singer-songwriters that Gregory Alan Isakov belongs to.

The weatherman ("someone who predicts the future every day and nobody cares", writes Isakov) is an album that can only be listened to when on your own. In company it passes by without being noticed. It is an album for people who like to unhaste every once in a while. Put it on, close your eyes and enjoy. Let it roll over you and keep an ear out for all the subtle changes, additions and above all Gregory Alan Isakov's voice. You won't be dissapointed.

The cover is just as quiet as the album itself. It reminds me of the cover of Jonathan, Ca. by Long Conversations. Both old and rustic.


You can listen to 'Amsterdam' here.

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