Montreal’s Daniel Isaiah is a lot like a Canadian Iron and Wine. Like Sam Beam, Isaiah has a background in the film industry. (Isaiah is an award-winning filmmaker, whereas Beam was a film professor.) Like Beam, Isaiah mines a kind of hushed, folksy brand of music. However, Isaiah peppers his lush sounds with a little bit of roots rock and Daniel Langois-esque atmospherics – so that’s pretty much where the comparisons end. Here, on Isaiah’s debut album, he pulls together a venerable who’s who of the Montreal indie scene with a little help from Plants and Animals’ Warren Spicer, Charlotte Loseth (aka Sea Oleena) and Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra drummer Dave Payant. (All that’s missing is a member from Arcade Fire.)
High Twilight is a record full of all sorts of twists and turns, keeping delighted listeners well on their toes. “Candlemaker Row” is a jumpy country song that evokes Bob Dylan’s Nashville period with, appropriately enough, a dash of Johnny Cash thrown in for good measure. “The Hours” is a ragtime Dixieland-like jazz excursion filtered through the bump and clang of Tom Waits. Five minute opener “Anita on the Banks” takes a wide detour through acoustic folk, soft country rock and hard-edged roots rock – making it seem like three songs wrapped into one. Isaiah even throws in a couple of songs sung in French for good measure. The only flaw with High Twilight is that it’s perhaps a little too stylistically all over the map, suggesting that the album is a document of an artist who is still finding his voice. However, the disc is a lovely collection of mostly laid-back mediations, and suggests that Isaiah might have a career for himself in music if that film career doesn’t fully pan out.
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// Notes from the Road
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