Gregory Alan Isakov – Evening Machines
When a songwriter composes from a place that is honest and heartfelt, they imbue part of themselves into the music. The new album from Colorado’s Gregory Alan Isakov takes things a step further by capturing the charm and energy of when and where it was composed too. Recorded in a converted barn on his own farm in the evenings after long days in the fields, often only with the soft hum of the instruments and recording equipment to break the silence of the quiet country nights. Dark, rustic and with an introspective soundscape; the album knows precisely what mood it wishes to set. Evening Machines shows Isakov’s commendable command of empty space. Sometimes the notes you don’t play can be just as important as the ones you do. The minimalist approach on tracks like ‘Was I Just Another One’ merely places greater emphasis on Isakov’s words and understated musicianship.
‘Caves’ is perhaps the record’s most fleshed out offering, reminiscent in places of The National, but even here the bittersweet instrumentation doesn’t distract from the poignant passages of calm. ‘Dark, Dark, Dark’ demonstrates the potential to create great music from the simplest of arrangements with its infectious foot-stomping melody. There are many tracks here that worthy, even essential, additions to any contemplative autumnal playlist, but these two are the primary contenders. While all the songs here work well as separate entities to varying degrees, as an album it lacks a sense of purpose. Theses songs don’t feel as though they work to create something greater than the sum of its parts, if anything having them side by side makes otherwise good songs start to feel like filler. It’s also worth noting that it’s the kind of record that you need to be in the right mood for to enjoy it to its full potential. There’s some great music here, but it’s perhaps best enjoyed at your own pace, piece by piece rather than all at once, lending just that little bit more space to think.