The Suffolk Journal

Gregory Alan Isakov fills Royale with folk-music while supporting latest album

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Gregory Alan Isakov fills Royale with folk-music while supporting latest album

Morgan Hume/Asst. Arts Editor

Morgan Hume/Asst. Arts Editor

Morgan Hume/Asst. Arts Editor

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Singer Gregory Alan Isakov spends the warm seasons as a full time farmer in Colorado, growing produce and vegetable seeds to sell at different markets. However, when the weather cools down, Isakov trades the farm for the stage and dives into his other full-time job: a indie-folk musician.

Isakov is on tour this fall to support his fourth full-length studio album “Evening Machines,” which was released in early October. He played two sold out shows at the Royale on Nov. 16 and Nov. 17.

His folk music relies heavily on string instruments, including the violin, cello, banjo and guitar. His soft, drifty songs combined with powerful lyrics about love and relationships make his music extremely compelling, especially when performed live.

Isakov performed songs from “Evening Machines” as well as older tracks from his 2013 album “The Weatherman” and his 2009 album “This Empty Northeastern Hemisphere.” The singer explained that since his music has never been played on the radio, he is free to play whatever he wants because no one is waiting for a specific, chart-topping song.

During the entire concert, the musician sang every note flawlessly, seemingly not missing a single one. Isakov does not have a big vibrato, so his vocals were always smooth and steady. He could belt out words just as easily as he could sing them softly. As Isakov sings, his words bleed into each other. Although his pronunciation of words is not always clear, it’s not a problem. It simply adds to his style and is unique to him as an artist.

There were not many introductions between songs. For most of the concert, Isakov transitioned from one song to the next without speaking, creating a continuous stream of music, similar to what a listener would experience if they were listening to the album. Making for a raw and genuine show, the primary focus was on the music instead of wild dance moves, flashy projection screens or other unnecessary distractions.

Isakov was joined on stage by a drummer and four string instrumentalists. Although they were not necessarily dancing, their bodies moved naturally to the beat as they lost themselves in the music, almost forgetting the audience was there. It was evident in each performer’s concentrated facial expressions and energetic body language that they could feel the music. They were not just playing the songs; the songs were pouring out of them as they filled the room with sound.

As Isakov introduced each band member, he described them as his best friends, and their strong chemistry on stage proved that to be true; throughout the concert, they shared smiles and high spirits that only deep-rooted friends could have.

Isakov draws inspiration for some of his songs from his home in Colorado. Some of the poetic lyrics in tracks from Isakov’s latest album reference Colorado’s landscapes and nature, like in the song “Dark, Dark, Dark” which mentions the Blood of Christ Mountains.

In the middle of the show, all the musicians picked up their instruments and moved to the center of the stage to gather around a 1920s style microphone. Seeing the men share a single microphone was an interesting part of the show because it created an intimate mood that brought the audience closer to the performers.

Before playing the song “The Universe” from “The Weatherman” album, Isakov said “My favorite thing to do is to play songs in the dark in my room. I thought maybe I could do that for you here.”

Morgan Hume/Asst. Arts Editor

After that, the lights in the Royale were turned off and the room went black. During the song, everyone seemed to pause and truly listen, because without the colorful lights to illuminate the performers, the only thing left to focus on was the music. The unique transition into the song made the experience easier to absorb and appreciate.

Isakov was called back to the stage for a well-deserved encore. He was joined by Reed Foehl, the opening act, for the first song. They sang a cover of the song “Way Down” by John Prine. Isakov and Foehl shared strong chemistry on stage because they are old friends and their voices beautifully mixed together. The rest of the band came back on stage afterwards to perform the last song, “All Shades of Blue” from the album “The Weatherman.”

Boston was the last stop for Isakov in America for the next few weeks. Isakov will be continuing his tour in Europe, where he will be playing shows in Sweden, Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands until December.

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About the Writer
Morgan Hume, Assistant Arts Editor



Morgan is a native of Troy, New York and the Assistant Arts and Culture Editor for The Suffolk Journal. She is a junior majoring in print/web journalism....

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Gregory Alan Isakov fills Royale with folk-music while supporting latest album