ISMAY “Desert Pavement”

All Eyes Media 2024

artwork for ISMAY album "Desert "Pavement"

Thought-provoking folk across rural California.

artwork for ISMAY album "Desert "Pavement"There is an old saying that you should write about what you know. ISMAY does this in an engaging and compelling way. ISMAY is Avery Hellman, a Bay Area native who gives us a collection of lavish folk songs influenced by the California ranch where they worked in their twenties. ISMAY travelled east to record the album at the famed Echo Mountain Recording studio in Asheville, North Carolina. Produced by Andrew Marlin of Watchhouse the songs were captured in a series of live takes and feature Marlin on mandolin, guitar and backing vocals amongst other talented musicians.

Lyrically the collection demands the listener’s attention throughout. On ‘Stranger in the Barn’, which as the title suggests is about finding a strange man in the barn. ISMAY sings “I fault, I freeze, there’s a person in front of me, on hay, he sleeps, I’ve got to go, tell someone here, a man’s bedding down by the sheep” In a “what will happen next?” moment ISMAY takes the song in another direction, one we can all learn from perhaps.

ISMAY also sings from the perspective of the animals themselves. Their haunting vocals on ‘The Lonely Stallion’ capture the yearning of the horse desperate to find companions of their own. “I turned to see someone else there like me, we walk for miles and I am not alone, I’m back where I want to be“. You get the feeling of desolation in the canyon and the craving as the stallion’s new friends leave through the gate.

Essay Man’ is a beautiful folk song complete with dripping tap and rustling paper and a further comment on modern living. The song ‘Streaming Family’ tackles the issue of life away from your family or loved ones. Although with technology everyone can be there in an instant on your own personal silver screen you can still be all alone. ISMAY keeps a good balance between traditional folk and interesting sonic transformations using a variety of sounds and instruments to create a palette that is deep and rich. The final track ‘Ohio‘ rounds off rewarding album of songs with a stunning melody and lyrics. “How can it be, that it’s only these hills to comfort me and, as the wild winds blow, can they take me on back to the Ohio”.

It’s well worth joining ISMAY on the ranch and beyond for an afternoon.


About Andy Short 10 Articles
You would think with all the music I listen to I would be able to write a song but lyrically I get nowhere near some of the lines I've listened to. Maybe one day but until then I will keep on listening.
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