Humans crave an unfolding narrative. We like our stories, and the journey is as important as the destination.
It's a lesson that Yukon's Brandon Isaak has learned well. Here On Earth, Isaak's second solo outing, is a delightfully low-key, all-original collection of songs that seem to unfold organically, yarns and tales taken at a relaxed, ambling pace that allows every detail to glisten and every nuance to resonate.
It's a quiet affair - primarily Isaak and acoustic guitar, Keith Picot's bass, with bits of harmonica here and there. Isaak's brother Chris produced the disc with an exquisite touch, adding keys to a tune as well. Additional participants include drummer Ed White on three and Daniel Lapp, who contributes cornet on one and fiddle on another.
Isaak is a master guitarist (he's best known for his work in The Twisters, Canada's perennial fave jump/swing outfit), and he's no slouch on harmonica. But it's the songs that matter here, from the leisurely hobo's lament of "Jim O' Jim" (featuring absolutely stellar 'train harmonica') to the gentle lilt of "Diana Was Her Name," a song brimming with equal parts hope and gratitude. There's the one-two punch of "All Night Long" and "Gamble On Love," both vaguely but cheerfully old-fashioned, while "Meet Me There" is a jaunty spiritual. "Dead Ass Fool" finds Isaak digging deep into the blues, and both "Up The Frisco Line" and "If It Don't Fit" are delightfully old-timey.
Indeed, most of the material sounds as though it could easily come from an earlier age, back when recorded music itself was a novelty. The only track that doesn't quite fit in is "City Lights," with it's a funked-up groove and processed production.
Apart from that one detour, though, together Chris and Brandon have crafted a sound that preserves and celebrates the intimacy of a troubadour spinning yarns, beguiling listeners with timeless tales of love lost and found, luck good and bad, and the simple pleasures of melody and good cheer.
Very nice stuff!