Isaac Gracie - Isaac Gracie
Practically overnight it seems, Isaac Gracie went from a no-name bedroom artist to landing a record deal. It’s a Cinderella success story that isn’t supposed to happen anymore in today’s music industry. Isaac’s clearly got a lot of support, but also a lot of pressure and expectations weighing on him. Is he a rising superstar, deserving of all the hype? Let’s find out.
Singer and songwriter Isaac Gracie performed in choirs for many years when he was young before eventually picking up a guitar and writing his own music. He then began recording amateur acoustic coffee-shop demos in his bedroom and sharing them online which attracted him so much attention that record labels were fighting each other off for the opportunity to sign him. Virgin EMI won the battle and Isaac released his debut, self-titled record on April 13th, 2018.
The close-up of Isaac’s face on the cover shows this album is his introduction. It’s a very honest and authentic display of his music, his personality, and his life. He’s a likable character, and it’s incredibly easy for the listener to form a bond and connect with his story. A band helps out when needed to bring songs to life, but for the most part, Isaac’s voice is simply accompanied by his guitar. For better or worse, Isaac’s sincerity is immediately noticed on the opener ‘terrified’ in which Isaac very openly questions whether he’s deserving of the musical limelight: “I don’t wanna be your boy I wanna be your man but something’s got me wrong inside… I’m terrified that maybe I wasn’t cut out for this”. It’s an interesting choice when you think about it, opening the album with a frail statement of nervousness. It would be comparable to boarding a plane and the pilot coming on through the speakers: “Uh.. ladies and gentlemen this is your captain speaking, this is my first flight, I’m incredibly nervous, I’m not quite sure I can do this” - okay maybe that was a little too dramatic of a comparison. Nonetheless, this statement ends up working for Isaac in the long-run because it creates a relatable story that listeners can connect with. We immediately get a sense of his vulnerability. Like the underdog protagonist in a movie, Isaac has set the scene and we’re rooting for him. Whether he believes in it or not, ‘terrified’ proves its worth by showcasing his gorgeous voice in soft soothing verses and soaring choruses.
It’s evident that Isaac’s got talent, and he puts it to good use with the songs ‘last words’, ‘running on empty’, and ‘telescope’. They are accessible, catchy, radio-friendly, pop-rock tunes that are sure to be hits. The lyrics cover a common topic of romantic heartache but Isaac expresses his story with a wide range of vocal techniques. From the excellent incorporation of tremolo in the delicate verses of ‘last words’ to the commanding choruses of energetic ‘running on empty’, Isaac’s voice is our captivating guide as he pulls on our heartstrings throughout these engaging tunes.
‘reverie’ is a beautiful, soothing closer for the album where Isaac’s passionate voice once again summons an emotional reaction. “Hey babe, what do you expect me to say? I can tell you that I’m doing great, but darling I’m just not okay”. Isaac’s meandering vocals combined with the light-felt presence of the backing band melt the listener and once again he is able to develop a connection with his audience.
The backing band makes more of an appearance on ‘the death of you and i’ in which Isaac reveals a heavier, harsher side of his voice in the choruses, reminiscent of Kurt Cobain. It’s the most provocative and intriguing track on the album. The jazzy, swing time verses give it a unique zesty flavor that gels well with the hard-hitting choruses. Isaac’s voice is vast and monstrous, but also controlled and precise – making his raw emotion felt in every word.
Unfortunately, the colorful techniques and artistic variation shown on ‘the death of you and i’ don’t make another appearance. The album lacks much meat to chew on in the middle section with a succession of sleepy tracks which carry similar themes and styles of ones before them. It seems Isaac was trying to simply replicate the success of previous compositions, without departing from familiar territory. Other than ‘the death of you and i’ we don’t see Isaac step outside his comfort zone and show us his abilities. ‘that was then’, ‘when you go’, ‘all in my mind’, and ‘hollow crown’ all lack originality and formulaically blur together.
There are a few really great tracks to be discovered here; ‘last words’, ‘the death of you and I’, and ‘reverie’ show Isaac’s range and his talent as a singer. ‘the death of you and i’ in particular is the saving grace of the album. Without it, this record would completely implode into a foggy haze of uninspired acoustic pop-rock. From ‘the death of you and i’, we know Isaac isn’t a one-trick-pony. We’ve seen what he can do, but we just barely scratched the surface. Sure, there’s nothing wrong with the standardized hits of ‘last words’ and ‘running on empty’, but the bland copycat tracks elsewhere on the album weaken the overall effort. As much as we would love to see Isaac succeed, there are some obvious shortcomings on the album and he leaves much to be desired here.
Isaac is clearly a talented singer and could very well be a superstar on the rise, but he has yet to reach his full potential and prove his worth. We’re excited to see what the future holds for him, hopefully, he can grow some stones and bring it big next time around.