Gregory Alan Isakov – he of the golden voice and soothing, ambient folk music – was probably a lighthouse in his former life. Nothing else explains how his music cuts through the din of life’s distracting darkness and helps lead listeners to a place of calm. His 2013 album, The Weatherman, is still the bar by which many folk musicians and bands are assessed. The South African-born singer-songwriter raises the standard even higher with Evening Machines.

Evening Machines is twelve tracks of immaculate beauty, featuring Isakov’s subdued vocals and stunning soundscapes. Opener “Berth” is breathtaking, as a stirring string section add an element of mystique and fantasy to this song of redemption. “Caves” evokes night sky imagery, as though you are sitting around a campfire as he strums his guitar. He sings, “Let’s put all these words away”, in a way that settles any feelings of uneasiness you may have. Some of those feelings are akin to looking at the stars through a telescope, which he calmly describes on the slow building and incredibly beautiful “Too Far Away”.

The album is filled with such moments – specifically moments that cause one to gasp for a breath. As percussion throb in the background, “Dark, Dark, Dark” is still levitating due to the fabulous interplay between the fiddle and banjo and the lush backing harmonies. The simplicity of “Chemicals” and “Southern Star” still pierces one’s heart’s defenses and renders you speechless. Meanwhile, Isakov casts a spell on “San Luis”, which is delicately dazzling and surreal. It’s like walking into a dream that will never end. And you won’t want the song nor this album to draw to a close because it is escapism at its finest. It will have you stumbling outside to gaze at the stars and the possibilities that lie beyond as the silence falls.

Evening Machines was released on Dualtone Records. Purchase and streaming links are available here.

To review the first 25 of our Favorite Albums of 2018, click here.

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