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Isaac Russell
Isaac Russell
Columbia Records
www.isaacrussell.com


The world of the singer/songwriter is an overcrowded one. There seems to be no end to the number of white guys who picked up an acoustic guitar and decided they could write songs, usually half of them for the purpose of picking up girls. This means that it is vitally important for a songwriter to distinguish themselves somehow. They need to convince the world that their music needs to be heard and they have something different and personal to say. If they can't accomplish this, then they might as well hang it up, because they will be lost in a sea of generic music.

That said, when it comes to Isaac Russell and his self-titled EP, he has found his own voice. His voice has a very comfortable feeling to it, like something that wouldn't be out of place on the pop charts. But his lyrics are written with a degree of depth that sounds like he is saying something in his way. "Made Me A Man," for instance, is a superbly written song telling off an apparently unfaithful woman. The music moves along quickly, allowing Russell to get across the emotions of hurt and anger that the lyrics so effectively convey. The refrain of, "You have made me a man, darling, and I wish you well/You and my best friend can go to hell" is delivered with power and the music changes to an appropriate minor key tonality to give it a different feeling than the verses.

"Lighthouse" is also a well-written musing on death. It's a bouncy tune that belies lyrics that wonder, "If there's a light at the end of the tunnel/Is there a lighthouse at the end?" Asking the question of not just is there a light in the distance, but if it's even coming from anywhere or is it just a hallucination. And beyond that, who controls the light if there is a source to it in the first place? It's a simple song with more depth than a lot of songwriters would give to the subject. "Golden" goes back to the theme of heartbreak, with a more full musical backdrop to drive the poppy melody. It's written as more of a lost love song where Russell describes himself as, "A scribble in your book/An awful risk you should have never took." It's moving and personal and a highlight of the album.

This is a well crafted EP whose biggest flaw is that it's over too quickly. We only get a glimpse of the talented songwriter that is Isaac Russell and that just doesn't seem like enough. This worth the time for anyone looking for a great folk album from an up and coming artist. It will leave you, as it did me, eagerly awaiting a full length album.

Rating: 8/10

-Brenden Kirch

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