True tales of romantic struggling.
Izaak Opatz has been meandering towards ‘Extra Medium‘ for a while – a couple of years back he had an album of mostly country covers and two remakes of songs he had written for his college band The Best Westerns and before that he’d released an album that couldn’t decide if it wanted to be serious singer-songwriter country or something more pop-country. He had the ideas, he had the lyrics, the delivery though didn’t always fulfil all the way across a song. With ‘Extra Medium‘ he’s dropped the more goofball side of his musical personality (with the exception of the cover picture obviously) and made an album of easy to relate to songs about a guy and his romantic misadventures. And there have clearly been a few if inspiration really is best drawn from life. Framing them into either a folk-country or country-garage band (we’re really rocking through the genres today, ain’t we?) delivery what he has retained is a wry, self-deprecating lyrical style that illumines the mistakes and the exaggerated interpretations of the intentions of others that an over optimistic, or perhaps over eager, heart can make.
Opener ‘Passenger Seat‘ has true love turning up at the most unlikely point – someone who has just been given a lift turns out to be “the one” – or at least “the one for now”, as Opatz explains: “I was only looking for someone to pull on the end of my sleeve / Help me out of my coat when I was driving,” but surprising things can happen as he ruefully acknowledges “swear I never saw it coming / If I had I would have messed it up.” Messed it up? You mean like you you did on ‘You Don’t Look at Me the Same‘ ? Where a cross-country road trip to be with the gal who is definitely into you finds the gal who asks “what the heck are you doing here?“. Big percussion driven ‘Mag-Lev Train‘ paints a picture of things going right – an evening of good company that extended and extended…. and which pays off with a unique motif for love “you gave me a sweet grass braid and a loose hoop of wire you’d been wearing around your wrist / I floated like a Mag-Lev train down your washboard road / thinking oh it must be a good kinda thing that would start like this.”
Love and its pit-falls and occasional highs is not the sum total of Izaak Opatz music – ‘Shampoo‘ is an honest evaluation of “the other side of this life” – it’s not all glamour he reflects as he finds himself once more “surreptitiously uncapping the shampoo in the shower / so that my hosts don’t know that I didn’t bring my own.” But if he never gets to be really at home that’s probably because he’s “never as happy as I am these days when I’m just on my way, half way there and in-between.” Humorous, but honest too in a Jim Croce way.
‘Extra Medium‘ is an example of an artist who has probably had the “shows promise, maybe the next album will mature the style” comments and then has actually done just that – found a consistency and a less cluttered delivery. It’s a style that really suits Opatz – both his voice and his lyricism.