BRANDON ISAAK Here On Earth – Roots And Blues For A Modern World
With bassist Keith Picot his right hand man, Isaak’s latest classy album sees him transformed into itinerant troubadour Yukon Slim, recounting tales from his wandering through wildest Western Canada. Brandon/Slim’s vocal comes from classic smoky backwoods heritage, first heard here on Jim O’Jim, a rural blues with restrained acoustic guitar played finger-picked style – not a half-bad opener. Howling Wolf’s primal Smokestack Lightning resonates through the years on Dead Ass Fool, as basic and unreconstructed as modern blues gets. City Lights is top shelf of the freezer cool in that JJ Cale lazy, humid, languid fashion. Isaak’s song-writing is consistently high-calibre, covering most traditional North American pre-industrial musical landscapes. Up The Frisco Line – guess – reeks of the Bay Area but don’t stray into cliché; bluegrass folk and jazz chords get jiggy down a French Quarter dark alley on Gamble of Love; black spiritual allusions haunt Meet Me There. Without fail, the guitar work – electric, acoustic, slide, bass – is perfectly on the case, but such is the impact of Isaak’s singing that his idiosyncratic vocal sound and technique catch the attention most. Hey, Yukon Slim – this is pretty damned nifty!