Isaac Russell, singer songwriter from Provo, UT. I remember first hearing of Isaac sometime in 2009 likely at the tail end of the local band Ruru. I was/had been out of touch with the music scene for close to 4 or 5 years and was curious to see where the moving local currents were occurring. Two names continued to appear Deseret Noises and formerly of Ruru.
At first,I was struck by how young Isaac appeared in his photo, yet how lyrically mature the music was; I was terrified that music has grown up without me. I felt like I’d returned to musical Neverland only to find the Lost Boy’s reading Dostoyevsky. But, it inspired me, however fleeting that moment may have been, in a world of musical ADD.
Fast-forward a year later to a random open mic at Velour. I saw Isaac perform and didn’t originally make the connection to the same young face I’d seen on online. He was much taller than expected and seemed much older. As I recall, he opted to play only one song that night, and stayed in the back speaking with other like minded individuals. At the time, the performances from this “cool club” of trendy dressers at the back of the room felt like a lot shtick, including Isaac Russell. In my mind, it was a lot of wannabe protest songs to songs more introspective seemed even more appropriate for a tortured "Me"’ and folkie revival which could only be expected from any college town in the mist of what some may considered this generations Vietnam, although instead of Dylan’s " it was replaced by Cohen’s " . The change from generation.
Well, despite whatever false assumptions I created from that night in Velour, I carried those into my first true listening of Isaac’s self titled EP and I have to say, "these five songs are nothing short of amazing." The songs seem extremely personal and are always asking and occasionally telling of loss, love, faith, and family. Song’s like "Lighthouse" and "Elizabeth" are the Chicken Soup for the Soul of music. If you don’t feel something after hearing these songs, then it’s likely you’re emotionally dead. And, if you’re emotional dead, don’t check yourself into the psyche ward because they’ll never let you out you sick psychopath! These type of personal songs make it difficult not to love Isaac as an artist. My only criticism, caution- or "don’t change a thing" for Isaac is: with songs so personal, what do you save for yourself? What was once yours, played night after night, soon becomes shared and eventually becomes theirs. Perhaps with "Elizabeth"’s deeply personal meaning, it should only be shared on the quiet moments in the halo of the spotlight, or the solitude of your headphones. As a video sandwiched between the Tyler the Creator and Beyonce seems very very wrong.