Izzy Heltai “Only Yesterday” (Sleeper Cave Records, 2019)

Izzy Heltai is an indie-folk, singer-songwriter from Northampton, Massachusetts. His new four-track EP ‘Only Yesterday’ tells tales of love and loss that perhaps belie his 22 years.

Arrangements on this record are deliberately simple with layering of guitar, piano, trumpet and fiddle kept to a minimum: Heltai wanted to explore how uncomplicated instrumentation can support songs that are lyrically rich. There is a line between lyrically rich and overly wordy, and some tracks, particularly ‘Mountain’ and ‘Common Sense’ struggle to get the balance right. This results in a slightly clunky, discordant listen.

The EP begins with ‘Marching Song’ a mournful and melancholy track that explores break ups and failed relationships. It is at times an uncomfortable listen “I couldn’t tell you on the telephone, you picked it up and I put it down”.

In ‘Common Sense’ Heltai tries to move on with his life telling himself and his ex-lover that “I’ll right wrongs with the next one. Hope you are doing fine”. You get the sense that things really aren’t all that fine and this is where some of that clash of melody and lyrical delivery makes for a difficult listen. ‘Stuck in Stone’ is much more accomplished both in delivery and in songwriting.

Mountain’ is an interesting track. Heavy on the wordiness and full-on with cliches: “You made your bed and you can lay in it” sings Heltai, following that with burning bridges, stepping on ashes, not stopping to catch his breath. The piano and mournful trumpets do well to anchor the song and it seems that Heltai is using it to drive home the fact that he needs to become aware of himself and understand the consequences of his actions.

You leave the EP feeling like you’ve listened in to a broken man’s internal monologue. There’s a gritty realism here that Heltai’s rough vocals, piano, discordant violins and guitar help to get across. Overall, it’s an engaging set of songs.

Gritty, break-up, folk music
6/10

Author: Linda Jameson

Moonshine, music and murder ballads - I own 6 pairs of cowboy boots!

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