Case in point is one of their earliest songs «As long as it takes». The drummer and guitarist Gaetan Vandewoude ditched Ikea, quit diddle-daddling in so many bands and took up residence in an abandoned barn. And what began as asolitary concept quickly led to the inclusion of other musicians and the formation of band. In 2009 the press elevated them to «Best Newcomer», their superb second album was «Stoalin» from 2012 and they’re going to ring the bells on the last island left with their latest from 2015, «Billy». It’s their most personal effort so far. «Billy was a sad boy / He didn’t even know/ Until he was old enough» are haunting words in the title song and reveal a penchant for autobiographical detail and a desperate quest for psychological healing. Yes, it’s about Gaetan’s own but he adds «I’m not special in that. It’s called life.» While there’s certainly an ounce or two of high-grade melancholia mostly delivered in his high-pitched voice, it’s all balanced with their peculiar and rousing heart- and soul-warming sound. The secret to savor might be that it’s an amalgam of the solemn triest with the joyous geluk, a celebration of beauty and intimacy performed in their distinctly frugal style. Pure and clean simplicity expressed in sparingly composed sound and song configurations at their breathtaking best.
If you’re into convenient comparisons and want to know what other bands might be swirling around in Isbell’s zone, some names would be Bon Iver, Fleet Foxes, Simon & Garfunkel, Nick Drake and others. Now that we’ve got you to take mental notes put a hook next to ‘must see Isbell’ as well, will you?