A strong debut that addresses some important issues and marks Inland Isle out as ones to watch.
Life in America continues to be arduous for many, so with their full length debut ‘Time Has Changed Us’, the Jackson, Wyoming based Inland Isle have decided it’s time to evaluate the impact of the pain running through the country and the collateral damage it inevitably causes to its citizens. This is summed up nowhere better than on the opening title track where lead singer Pat Chadwick sings of the distress the politics around him is causing not just at large, but also in regards to a personal relationship: “Grieving for our country / Lost sight of my home / My hands left your side / To fumble with my phone / Little tragedies I didn’t need to know”.
Recorded in a Montana cabin, the album was produced and engineered by drummer Shawn Fleming pulling triple duty, but it was mastered by Brian Lucey. Lucey’s varied career has seen him previously work with acts like The Black Keys and The Shins, and there is a lot of that beguilingly effortless indie rock cool with a folk twist to enjoy here, showcased perfectly on the way the mournful regretfulness of ‘Analise’ manages to still sparkle despite the lyrics, lush vocals harmonies and all.
‘Biggest Fish’ is the most lightweight and sunny track, all about being happy with what you’ve got (“I think about the ocean / And all the creatures fighting in the surf / Think I’m happy here floating / Here in the water on my own turf”), but the Beatles tinged, Sufjan Stevens-esque horn heavy ‘Song For Discouraged Liberals’ gets things back on track, digging a little deeper. “On the phone with my mom back home / She asks what could she’ve done / But mom this song’s an inherent one / We’re all just on the run,” are lyrics that will hit home with anyone who has ever felt helpless to stop events that are unfolding in front of them.
“Bored with myself, bored with conversation / When you were near I was fresh and wired / And I want that feeling back, like the still before the thunder / Trying to break the haze that I’ve been under,” laments Chadwick on the rockish ‘Valentina’. ‘Among The Pines’ is a 70s folk rock style soarer, complete with rich harmonies and punchy sing-along of a chorus (“Now there’s traffic nightly, Jesus Christ / Can a rich man share a home he’s in half the time? / Hold me tightly, the beer’s overpriced / Costs are mounting on this mountainside”). The final track ‘Celestine’ is a dreamy, sweeping epic that starts as a love story but quickly turns into a murder ballad (“My heart skips a beat with a pound at the door / And in walks a man I’ve not seen before / Blood in his eyes, a badge on his chest / And armed all the while”).
Against the slick guitars on ‘Hero Run’, Chadwick vocalises the disillusionment most of us have felt of the musicians we once worshipped at one point or another (“All my heroes are lost, fighting for the mainstream / Still strumming chords, swimming upstream / I’m at a loss”); and while the ones they looked up to may be lost in a homogenized sea, it’s good to know that Inland Isle are still out there swimming and fighting the good fight, one song at a time.