Hushed, Dreamy Indie Folk Live in Boston
I first saw Gregory Alan Isakov perform at the Newport Folk Festival last summer, and a friend and I have been anxiously awaiting his return to Boston so we could see him in a headlining show. Our patience was rewarded this week at the second of two sold-out shows at The Sinclair.
Sometimes when an artist wows me at a festival, I am slightly disappointed when I see them in a headlining show. But this could not be further from the truth with Isakov. What a fabulous show, not to mention one of the most respectful audiences I have ever witnessed at a standing venue.
Isakov is an indie folk singer-songwriter born in South Africa, living in Colorado. He is not a flashy performer – he leaves that up to his band – but he captivates his audiences with his well-crafted songs and a voice that is smooth as caramel. He uses what I believe is an Argonne microphone for many of his songs, and I love the effect it has on his voice.
Isakov’s band consists of Jeb Bows on violin and vocals, Phil Parker on cello and vocals, Jamie Mefford on drums, and Steve Varney on guitar, banjo, and vocals.
With three albums under his belt and hopefully a new one on the way — he performed a couple of new songs, as I recall — Isakov had more than enough material to fill his time. He and the band played songs from all three albums, although most came from his 2013 release, The Weatherman. That album contains “Amsterdam,” “Saint Valentine,” and “Suitcase Full of Sparks,” at least two of which they played.
Although I do not believe “All Shades of Blue” was on the setlist — sometimes it is hard for me to remember what was performed when I know and listen often to the artist’s albums — I want to share part of that song’s lyrics to give you an idea of his songwriting:
Broken bottles shine just like stars
make a wish anyway
just your smile lit a sixty-watt bulb in my house
that was darkened for days
been thinking you probably should stay
yeah, I think that you probably should stay.
Gregory Alan Isakov’s voice needs to be heard.