Gregory Alan Isakov album review, ‘The Weatherman’

July 11, 2013
GREGORY ALAN ISAKOV
“The Weatherman”

Kindred spirits: Josh Ritter, Jose Gonzalez, Iron and Wine

Show: With David Ramirez on Tuesday at
the Hamilton. Show starts at 7:30 p.m.
202-787-1000. www.thehamiltondc.com.
$17 advance, $19.50 at the door.

Gregory Alan Isakov is a self-proclaimed drifter. Born in South Africa, he’s a lifelong traveler who has settled for the time being near the progressive utopia of Boulder, Colo. When Isakov isn’t crafting introspective, ethereal folk songs, he’s often working in his garden.

That mellow-dude lifestyle translates to the low-key tunes on his third full-length album, “The Weatherman.”

The itinerant troubadour is an eloquent lyricist who delivers soul-searching ruminations filled with cosmic pondering, nomadic wisdom and plenty of earthy metaphors. His understated voice has a hushed force akin to that of Jose Gonzalez’s and, at its best, the alluring comfort of Paul Simon’s. Isakov’s guitar work is largely limited to meditative strumming, which, when paired with his hypnotic melodies, gives the “The Weatherman” a dreamlike flow.

Isakov isn’t one to embellish. He recorded his latest on vintage analog gear and added extra instruments sparingly: light marching drums and piano on the meandering opener, “Amsterdam,” and gentle fiddle and banjo accents on the weathered waltz, “All Shades of Blue.” Pop sensibilities surface on the airy “Saint Valentine” and on “Suitcase Full of Sparks,” a sunny rambling lilt about a wanderer’s quest for love.

From start to finish, the album keeps an even-keel mood, but in an age of ubiquitous Americana genre mashing, it’s a welcome change of pace.

Jedd Ferris

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