words by Katie Wighton // photos by Sarah Rix (@sarahrix)
“It’s like a Buzzsaw and a cup of tea had a baby.”
Harrison Storm opens the night with his reverb-soaked vocals and a stomp box. He’s got a beautiful voice if not somewhat similar to someone I’ve heard before, though I can’t quite put my finger on it. He sings strong and true and I feel safe here.
The Croxton isn’t the most vibey venue but as the lights dim and the gypsy jazz house music swells the crowd cheers. There’s all sorts here. Isakov has brought bearded men, women in their 30s, couples in their 60s. It’s an eclectic bunch.
Gregory Alan takes the stage with a single warm spotlight behind him. The sound is perfect and he has a gorgeous voice. At this point it’s just him and a guitar. About halfway through the track the double bass player joins him onstage in the dark. Then the strings. Warm orange spotlights swell behind all of them as they transition into a more jaunty number and the banjo plucks away. He and the audience sing Big Black Car together in harmony.
This is definitely not your average folk band. I think there’s an acoustic guitar being run through a series of pedals, giving it this crazy sound. It’s like a Buzzsaw and a cup of tea had a baby. I don’t even know if that makes sense but that’s how if feels to me.
The double bass blends perfectly and the kick drum (wherever it’s coming from) is huge. Isakov is shocked by the crowd and tells us so between the waves of music he’s giving us.
I feel like I’m in a giant English pub. I feel slightly miffed that I can’t seem to understand what he’s singing though. His Bob Dylan meets Bon Iver style of singing blends the words together and I struggle to make out the words. But the soundscape is beautiful. This is a band who clearly play together a lot. “She’s all smoke and nicotine” - the band sing/yell in harmony together.
It’s such a well-crafted sound - a new and exciting brand of folk with Gregory Alan Isakov leading the way.