Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Bryce Isbell - "The Necromancer" from Halloween

Bryce Isbell
“The Necromancer” from Halloween
Pop Monster 2007

Bryce Isbell must be one of the hardest working musicians out there. Case in point, Isbell is releasing three EPs this year alone (Halloween, I,2,3,4, and I Ride Horses) the latter of which was released yesterday through Pop Monster Records (

Now, I have to be honest, I am somewhat of a skeptic when it comes to artists releasing multiple albums in the span of a year (see Ryan Adams in the year 2005). There can be a point when proficiency is too much to bare and it takes a toll on the artist's music, leaving it thin and the listener hoping that the musician took just a little more time to make something great, instead of a lot of something that is mediocre. This, however, is not the case with Bryce Isbell.

I get the sense from Isbell that each of his works on his MySpace page ( is a different meditation on his spirit. Almost a personal soul-searching cleansing. Joseph Arthur once called this kind of personal writing in himself as “someone recovering through music.” This would best describe Isbell’s music.

In his brilliantly simple, and vulnerable song “The Necromancer”, from his upcoming EP Halloween, we begin with a soft, yet haunting choral chant, repeated throughout the entirety of the song, creating a fragile yet pensive bed for Isbell’s vocals. The lilting chorus fully embraces the listener. And then, slicing through this softness is the lone, delicate cry of Isbell. His voice is captivatingly unstructured, wavering between keys with unorthodox control. The song as a whole is like experiencing a lone cry in the deep wilderness, a cry that pierces your soul directly and never loses its grip.

"The Necromancer” is a stunningly gorgeous song and on occasion pays homage to artists like The Decembrists and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. The thing is with Isbell; it is not far fetched to say that his music is equally good if not better than these modern day pioneers. I truly urge you to listen to Bryce Isbell, and take notice of an artist who is unafraid to lay his soul bare though music.

-Mark Dougherty

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