Album Review: Gregory Alan Isakov with the Colorado Symphony

image1-1024x1024Gregory Alan Isakov has had an unarguably exemplary musical life having been working tirelessly since the age of 16, touring in various bands that has seen him through more than 20 years of hard musical work.  His first solo album emerged into the world back in 2003 and he has been making them steadily ever since.  Thankfully 2016 sees the latest of these albums and it is quite possibly his most grandiose to date – Gregory Alan Isakov with the Colorado Symphony.

To put it mildly; this is an album that is so mesmerizingly stunning that for the most part it truly defies description as well as any held expectations.  Isakov hinges everything on his deep, American lilted vocals – whisky smooth and molasses thick they suit his chosen musical perfectly.  Originally bordering somewhere between folk and indie rock his vocals suit this well and his carefully plucked guitar strings are the kind of warming foreground of the music you could expect to hear in both genres.

However, then there is the dramatic and exultant inclusion of the Colorado Symphony.  This is an album that swells and undulates like waves crashing on a craggy shoreline.  Opening the album is Liars, a sweet and soft lullaby of a song at the beginning but as you listen it begins to grow around you, swelling and bursting until finally it comes crashing down around you like a tidal wave of sound.  Music seems to come from all around you as you listen, like surround sound but far more deeply rooted.  Songs such as Big Black Car make you feel as if you are totally emerged inside Isakov’s world and seeing things pop around you for the first time.  His songs have the power to transport you – like being in a planetarium for the first time, laying back and staring up the void you gradually watch clusters of stars born and swirl around you.  This is the power he holds in his palm.

This is truly one of the most stunning and heart-lifting compositions I have ever come across.  Isakov has a deft musical skill and a time-worn voice that has been polished to perfection over years and as a musician in his own right he is more than incredible enough to sell his music.  However, this bold and brave step forward with the symphony at his back lends him a raw, rumbling and even ethereal power that is quite frankly unrivalled.  Cellos, violins, gongs, trumpets, tubas and more all combine like an act of nature to produce one of the most powerful collections of songs imaginable.

With more than 20 years experience it’s hardly surprising that Isakov has honed his skills to perfection.  What issurprising though is the monumental power that he has surrounding him from the Colorado Symphony.  Rich, vivid and timeless it’s like listening to the breathing of the world.  This is the perfect album to allow you to sit back and have the music wash over you in its entirety and just relax.

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Review by Joe Knipe

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