Daniel Isaiah 01/25/12 @ Casa Del Popolo
Daniel Isaiah was playing last Wednesday in the cozy and intimate setting of Casa Del Popolo. Judging by the media attention Isaiah has been getting lately, as well as by the quality of his performance, I could hardly believe that this kind of low-key concert experience featuring the artist would ever be happening again; since the Montreal native might be on the rise to prominence just like a number of fellow gifted local musicians have been lately.
The night started with a performance by the unpretentious, french-speaking trio Grand Chevy, whom were dressed in their favorite hockey jerseys. They fed our ears with intricate, solid rock. Vocals might not be the trio’s best asset– lyrics were certainly inaudible and voices, half of the time, were completely off, but they were pretty solid on power-chords, riffs and solos. The band, who could have appeared as a draft version of indie craze, french band Malajube, is not the kind that would take itself too seriously, but still were very entertaining to watch and listen to.
Isaiah’s debut album High Twilight (released in June 2011), is a wonderful piece of contemporary folk. As the songster delivers his hunting, beautifully crafted songs in his distinctive timbre, it is more than obvious that we are dealing with raw talent. Isaiah’s bittersweet tales of ambient pop and folk music are pieces of poetry, apparently modest but definitely powerful. Then, there is something very particular about his tone and lyrics, instantly carrying you away; you cannot help but be drawn to it. On stage, Isaiah literally shines with authenticity; with his fronting persona, reverent attitude, and shining charisma, which really make him one of a kind.
Though Isaiah’s performance was very shot, never was it denied of emotion. A good chunk of the set constituted of new songs, performed without a single hesitation; we certainly cannot wait to have them on record. There is something very Dylan-esque about the way Isaiah presents himself, a reference that he shall probably soon be tired of hearing; but what could possibly be wrong with having people only compare you to greatest? It must mean that you’re doing quite good. But in his manners; in the way he sarcastically jokes, in the way he directs his band, his sharp voice and nasal tone, in arrangement quality, high song-writing level, and in the way each songs inflicts self-reflection– it is impossible not to catch glimpses of Dylan – or Cohen, in fleeting moments. As a result, every song comes alive and shines its way through to the mind and the heart. “High Twilight”, the record’s title-song is a good example of that, whether it is played live or listened to on record.
To sum up, I would say that Isaiah music consumes itself in a quiet fire; ardent and contained. Never being close burning out; and we shall want to stick around when it spreads.