This Empty Northern Hemisphere
With influences as diverse as Leonard Cohen, Mark Kozelek and Leadbelly, Colorado’s Gregory Alan Isakov has been making a name for himself the last few years in both singer/songwriter and indie-folk circles. Hooking up with Brandi Carlile for a 2009 tour and gracing his fourth album with her presence, Isakov seems to be making a move to push his career to the next level. The songs here deserve a wider audience (not that his earlier work didn’t!), as they radiate more emphatically, and linger a little longer when the last track ends. With strings that bow and billow, gently brushed drums and guitars, and a wonderfully just-raw-enough voice, tracks like the lilting “Light Year” and the quietly anthemic “Evelyn” are easily branded as some of his best work. Carlile’s strong, sinuous voice on tunes like “That Moon Song” and “If I Go, I’m Goin” adds inestimable depth to the collection, and the restraint used on tunes as delicate and tranquil as Leonard Cohen’s “One of Us Cannot Be Wrong” and “Dandelion Wine” is to be admired. An excellent next step in Isakov’s musical development.