Born in Johannesburg, South Africa, raised in Philadelphia, Gregory Alan Isakov now calls Colorado home. Isakov has released four full-length studio albums (That Sea, The Gambler; This Empty Northern Hemisphere; The Weatherman; and Gregory Alan Isakov with the Colorado Symphony) on his independent record label, Suitcase Town Music. His fifth and most recent album, Evening Machines was released by Suitcase Town Music in collaboration with Dualtone Records. When Isakov isn't touring, he spends much of his time on his farm in Boulder County, which provides produce to local restaurants within the community.
Many musicians have day jobs to make ends meet. However, few artists maintain the lifestyle kept by Gregory Alan Isakov. The Colorado-based indie-folk artist is a full-time farmer who sells vegetable seeds and grows various market crops on his three-acre farm, while also tending to a thriving musical career.
"I switch gears a lot," he says. "I wake up really early in the growing season, and then in the winters, I'm up all night. I'm constantly moving back and forth."
Isakov had an easier time balancing his two passions while making his fourth full-length studio album, Evening Machines. In between farm duties, the multi-instrumentalist wrote and recorded in a studio housed in a barn on his property. Like the farm, this studio has a communal atmosphere, filled with instruments and gear stored there by musician friends-gear Isakov always leaves on, just in case inspiration strikes.
"Sometimes I couldn't sleep, so I'd walk into the studio and work really hard into the night," he says. "A lot of times I would find myself in the light of all these VU meters and the tape machine glow, so that's where the title came from. I recorded mostly at night, when I wasn't working in the gardens. It doesn't matter if it's summer or winter, morning or afternoon, this music always feels like evening to me."
As its name implies, the dark indie rock and folk populating Evening Machines possesses a dusky hue. Hushed acoustic guitar and sparse piano combine for a moody foundation that's amplified by ornate and heavy embellishments: distant electric guitars, keyboards, pedal steel, saw, percussion, strings, banjo, and some electronic drums. Lilting background vocals intertwine with Isakov's watercolor-streaked murmur on "Powder," while "Where You Gonna Go" applies haunting, echoing vocal effects to his voice.
However, in a nod to the musician's desire to strike a "balance of space and instrumentation," these lush flourishes-loping banjo on "Dark, Dark, Dark," ghostly pedal steel on "Was I Just Another One" and strings twirling through the waltzing "Southern Star"-enhance his precise, thoughtful arrangements. It's an intimate album that encourages close listening and contemplation.
$1 from every ticket will go to The Land Institute
. The Land Institute is a non-profit whose vision is to develop an agricultural system that can produce ample food, reduce or eliminate impacts from the disruptions and dependencies of industrial agriculture, and inform cultural change through education.
Links: The Land Institute