In July, Gregory Alan Isakov announced the October release of his newest album Evening Machines. “Chemicals“, the album’s debut single, is a candid folk song that features contrasting mumbled and falsetto vocals. The inverse vocalization mirrors the track’s study of the connection between love and solitude.
“Chemicals” opens with the imagery of new romance but as the song progresses, love shifts and seclusion recapitulates. The uncomplicated instrumentation evokes a sense of loneliness ultimately symbolizing the detachment that lurks behind love’s veneer. Isakov’s juxtaposition of love to caffeine illustrates and reduces romance to a physiological effect rendered by the “chemicals in my head”. He takes heed with infatuation when he sings “now babe, if it’s alright I call you that”? Besides being a diminutive pet name, problematizing the use of ‘babe’ also questions the existence of an intimacy that might be imagined. Isakov demonstrates to listeners that love is biological, but it is also mercurial and duplicitous while solitude is certain.
True to Isakov’s style, “Chemicals” is a penetrating narrative that explores the complexity of the human condition. It’s almost overwhelming to ponder what the rest of the album will reveal.