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Gregory Alan Isakov (Suitcase Town/Dualtone)

“I’m always the campfire song ruiner,” jokes Gregory Alan Isakov, referring to his tendency to not write songs in the standard verse-chorus-verse format, with repeating choruses. “I wanted to go backward a little bit, because (2018’s) Evening Machines was such a deep dive into arrangements. I wanted to have more of a raw experience on this one.” And Isakov achieves that on Appaloosa Bones, the first album in five years from this South African-born, Philadelphia-raised, Colorado produce farmer who also has built a remarkable music career, releasing eight albums – one Grammy nominated – and touring the world, while remaining outside of the music industry mainstream. But he aims to change the “mainstream” part as he unleashes Appaloosa Bones on the world.

Repeating choruses and more traditional song formats blend with stark yet complex and compelling arrangements on Appaloosa Bones, something revealed as soon as you click play on the opening track, “The Fall,” a song “sort of” about an 1800s trapeze artist. The diversity of the album then becomes exposed as a solitary banjo kicks off the next track, “Before The Sun,” which ebbs and flows as instruments slide in out of the arrangement, always maintaining an intimate and emotional vibe, just as the rest of the album does. Isakov’s penetrating lyrics and melodies are then enhanced by the contributions of a long list of friends, including but not limited to Danny Black, Lief Vollebekk and Aiofe O’Donovan. But it’s Isakov’s songs, and the way he leaves them open to personal interpretation, are the stars of Appaloosa Bones. “Every song has a lot of meaning to me, but I want to take up as little space as possible, because I really didn’t make these for me – I made them for other listeners,” Isakov says.

Coming off a successful JBE SummitFest performance, Gregory Alan Isakov will be spending the rest of the year on the road worldwide, supporting Appaloosa Bones, including run of sold out shows in L.A., Phoenix, Salt Lake City and his adopted home of Colorado, where he’ll play to capacity crowds three nights running in Denver’s Mission Ballroom, the Dillon Amphitheater and Red Rocks. Meantime, the radio story is building with KBCO, Colorado Sound, Indie 102.3 leading the way for The Current, Birmingham Mountain Radio, KBAC and more.

Photo by Rebecca Caridad


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