Gregory Isaac Isakov Purveys Haunting Introspection With ‘Evening Machines’ (ALBUM REVIEW)


The ongoing echoes of Gregory Isaac Isakov’s nocturnal gaze sometimes seem akin to wandering through a fog that refuses to lift, all hazy rumination with no answers in sight. Yet, over the course of his career, Isakov has managed to invest his music with the kind of comfort and assurance that comes with restive circumspect. While his hushed vocals and quiet sense of deliberation may appear torpid at times, even to the point of inducing a sort of lethal lethargy, leaning in closer reveals the quiet incandescence of his hypnotic arrangements and soothing sentiments. “I’m a ghost to you, you’re a ghost to me,” he softly intones on “San Luis,” one of several standout songs on the thoroughly mesmerizing Evening Machines, and indeed, each of each of its entries purvey that haunting introspection.

Isakov’s cerebral yet spellbinding aural palette becomes increasing affecting as the album drifts from one seductive soundscape to another. He crafts songs like “Berth,” “Southern Star” and “Bullet Holes” by melding richer textures and tones to an uncommonly lush sonic template. It’s a remarkable combination that has gained the South African born, current Colorado resident comparisons to other ground-gazing singer/songwriters, all of whom look to Nick Drake for inspiration. The shimmer and sheen of “Chemicals,” “Was I Just Another One,” “Too Far Away” and “Dark, Dark, Dark” create a sound that’s both reflective and alluring, more a Sunday morning soundtrack than accompaniment for Saturday night revelry. Yet once the clouds clear, the emotion is beautifully intertwined. Even the occasional surge of a song like “Caves” finds an iridescent glow and sublime serenity in the fading twilight.  

“Let’s put all these words away,” Isakov implores, allowing the meditative mood to fully take command.

Ultimately, Isakov ought to be credited with attempting to interject some tranquility and sobriety into an otherwise turbulent world. One could do far worse than to indulge in Evening Machines for a most restful respite; it’s lovely to say the least.

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