Monday, February 6, 2012


Longtime front man for Vancouver blues favourites The Twisters, Isaak strikes out on his own with a solid debut.  Showing skills in a wide variety of acoustic blues, Isaac brings it all together with a powerful, plaintive and gutsy voice, plus excellent writing over the course of the 14 tunes here.  With lots of fine picking, evocative slide and plenty of changes, it's a surprise and wonder that he handles everything on the album aside from drums, which fall to producer Chris Isaak (the other one, Brandon's sibling). 

There's a smoothness on a lot of tracks, but it's the good kind, not wimpy but instead soulful.  Isaak really shines when he puts the gospel into his music, not literally, but grabbing the good swing found in those uplifting tones.  You Gotta Pray is a number to get you out of the personal blues, and sees him getting close to preacher vocals.  Instead of other bluesmen, at several points on the disc I find myself thinking about Lyle Lovett, and that's meant as a big compliment.

Even when the disc leans towards cliche, such as the lyrics on Hard Workin' Woman, where his baby is leaving on a big jet plane, the production quality, the sound, and the voice make the song winner.  Luckily, there are far more gems with something new in them.  He gets a slow funky groove going for A Little Wine, a cautionary tale, and for Tell Me Why, Isaac lets his inner Howlin' Wolf come out.  Always known (and nominated) as a strong songwriter on the national blues scene, Isaak pushing to the head of the pack with this work.

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