Gregory Alan Isakov 'Evening Machines'
Originality68
Lyrical Content86
Longevity78
Overall Impact76
Reader Rating2 Votes94
77
A quintessential indie-folk record brimming with emotional struggle and search for belonging

In his fourth studio album, Gregory portrays a unique tenderness and simplicity that often eludes most mainstream music. In a world of constant momentum, Evening Machines invites the listener to take a step back into a more traditional way of life through the deep brown eyes of a quiet Colorado farmer.

With his flat cap and acoustic guitar at the ready, Gregory takes us on an introspective journey through natural landscapes, joyous solitude and redemption. Gently strummed guitars dominate the soundscape, though he is not afraid to experiment beyond his usual folk tools; with reverb vocals and incremental layering at his disposal, the album seamlessly transitions between warm, mellow tracks like San Luis, and triumphant expressions of exuberance like Caves, creating a unique atmospheric feel.

Evening Machines nonetheless comes from a place of relative tranquillity that effortlessly combines masterful lyrics and a relaxing acoustic ambience reminiscent of an early Leonard Cohen or Foy Vance.

In an Instagram post from 2018, Gregory wrote about his love for contemplative walks around his barnyard and how a simple wander can quickly turn into an idea for a song. In fact, most of the album was written amidst the peaceful yet striking scenery of Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado, which is certainly a great source of inspiration.

The importance of nature resonates throughout, most notably in the second track San Luis which features an incredible geographic music video of Isakov travelling through the wild lands of Colorado. Tracks such as Powder and Was I Just Another One are progressively layered to create peaceful yet awe-inspiring sounds – further illustrating Isakov’s deep connection to the natural beauty that surrounds him.

Evening Machines is a record tinged with inner conflicts, emotion and an unmistakable sense of anxiety. In an interview with The Know, Isakov sheds some light on his struggle with acute anxiety which he experienced on his last tour. During this time, he found comfort in writing Chemicals and Dark, Dark, Dark to help him get “through the darkness”.

Despite his palpable vulnerability, the final track on the album Wings All Black appears to confronts these mental struggles by accepting his difficulties in a redemptive manner. However, unlike other singer/songwriters, Isakov ensures his inner struggles are not masked in obscurity but rather, unravelled and presented clearly to the listener. This is perhaps the album’s greatest strength; that we are able to fully understand his emotional journey in enjoyment and self-reflection.

Overall, this album is a joy to listen to and get lost in. A quintessential indie-folk record brimming with emotional struggle and search for belonging. Perfect for country walks or Sunday afternoons by the fire.

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