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Gregory Alan Isakov - This Empty Northern Hemisphere (Suitcase Town)

Star rating: 
3

Johannesburg-born singer-songwriter Gregory Alan Isakov creates a moody atmosphere from the outset with the enchanting opener Dandelion Wine on this his fourth solo album to date THE EMPTY NORTHERN HEMISPHERE originally released in 2009 but due for re-issue to coincide with his forthcoming UK tour. With a gentle vocal delivery and fluid musicianship, Isakov's sense of melody makes each of the songs on this album instantly accessible.   

Recorded at various locations and co-produced by Isakov and Jamie Mefford, the singer-songwriter is joined by Jen Gilleran on drums, Jeb Bows on violin and Phil Parker on cello, with various other contributions throughout. Drawing on influences ranging from the likes of Leonard Cohen, Iron and Wine and Kelly Joe Phelps, Isakov delivers an assured record, with songs that range from the sweetly absorbing Idaho, the tender Words, co-written with brother Ilan, to the comparatively upbeat and driving Evelyn.    

Taking up the mantle of singer-songwriter upon moving to Colorado in 1999, where the songwriter was significantly influenced by Bruce Springsteen's The Ghost of Tom Joad, the life of a travelling musician beckoned and that career has seen the subsequent release of three albums, RUST COLOURED STONES (2003), SONGS FOR OCTOBER (2005) and his last album THAT SEA, THE GAMBLER (2007).

On this fourth release, Isakov is joined by Americana singer-songwriter Brandi Carlile on five of the songs, including a fine version of Leonard Cohen's One of Us Cannot Be Wrong, the song that not only closed the Canadian songwriter's debut album back in 1967 but this one as well. Carlile also provided some of her own studio time for this project, which she clearly believes in and supports. Gregory Alan Isakov begins his UK in early June.  

Allan Wilkinson
Northern Sky