CD: 14 songs; 46:15 Minutes
Styles: Contemporary Acoustic and Electric Blues
When one thinks of Canada, what are the first words that come to mind?
Hockey? Cold weather? Maple leaves? How about ‘blues music’?
Our Northern neighbors are skilled at both the electric and acoustic varieties, as is Whitehorse, Yukon native Brandon Isaak. One might recall him as a member of the jump-blues band The Twisters, of which he and album co-performer Keith Picot are still a part. Here On Earth, his 2013 follow-up to 2012’s Bluesman’s Plea, is a wildly catchy, mostly acoustic romp with several tunes regarding travel. All fourteen are candid and intimate originals, sung without countless layers of studio polishing.
The CD sounds like it might have been recorded on Isaak’s front porch, if he has one, and that’s a great thing. The only flaw is that many of his songs seem similar, which might catch listeners unaware if they want to sing along. With Brandon are Picot on upright bass, drummer and background singer Ed White, cornet and fiddle player Daniel Lapp, and Chris Isaak (no, not the one of “Wicked Game” fame) on keyboards and backing vocals.
Track 02: “All Night Long” – Teenagers aren’t the only people who like to sneak out for mysterious midnight romps. After this one, a certain errant lover doesn’t make much sense: “When the sun come up this morning, baby, I was all alone, and all I had when I woke up was a message on my telephone. You were talking about some so-and-so, and going on and on. All I want to know is: Where were you all night long?” Isaak’s harp is as nervous as our narrator.
Track 05: “Dead Ass Fool” – Why is it that sometimes, people hang onto partners who treat them so wrong, even though it’s not right? In this traditional blues ballad, Isaak can’t seem to find the answer: “You know, I give her all my money and treat her like a queen – Why, but when I get home from work, I’ve got to cook and clean.” Revel in the rippling guitar solo in the middle.
Track 06: “Bright City Lights” – The lure of a metropolis can be a trap for some, as it is in this pleasingly-funky number. One of the few on which electric guitar is featured, track six will resonate with ‘country folk’: “No more traffic or waiting in line, just a piece of land and peace of mind. We’ll be happy, just wait and see – a simple life with the folks and me.” Chris Isaak’s keyboards provide flair to this mid-tempo musing.
Perhaps the most remarkable thing about this album is Brandon Isaak’s many instrumental talents. He plays guitar, harmonica, foot percussion, and jug as well as lead vocals. Very few musicians can excel in so many areas, and Brandon’s versatility should be showcased more. Nevertheless, there’s plenty of enjoyment to be had “Here on Earth”!