Review: Gregory Alan Isakov with the Colorado Symphony


On a sweet late summer night in 2015, I looked down upon the stage from my seat in the last row of the Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison, Colorado. The performer on stage was a local man named Gregory Alan Isakov. I had never heard his music before, but I was intrigued enough by his performance to take note when, the following June, he released an album with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra. Today, it might quite possibly be my favorite thing to have come out of the year 2016.


The album, Gregory Alan Isakov with the Colorado Symphony, opens with a masterpiece. “Liars,” written by Ron Scott, tells the story of a man who sells his baseball cards to buy clothes, sells his clothes to buy land, and sells his land to buy dreams. It is haunting, and it is beautiful.


The album then rolls through a medley of Isakov’s earlier songs, rearranged to highlight the symphonic accompaniment: The Weatherman (2013), This Empty Northern Hemisphere (2009), and That Sea, The Gambler  (2007). Listeners familiar with Isakov’s previous work can hear how the Symphony breathes life into these old songs.


I was fortunate enough to see Gregory Alan perform the album live with the Colorado Symphony in early 2017. I was alone, in the cheapest seat I could find, high up behind the orchestra, nearly in the rafters, and yet still it was magical to watch it come to life.


Isakov and his band are, like any good collaboration, the culmination of all the places they’ve been, both together and as individuals. Together, they sound like the music of the mountains, and when I listen to Gregory Alan Isakov with the Colorado Symphony, all I can hear is home.


Buy the album, relish the first listen, revisit it (as I do), play it at dinner parties, play it on road trips when the road opens up and there’s nothing but landscape for miles, play it during harvest season, make it one of the many soundtracks to your life.


Background, Context & Reference


More From This Issue

Thanks to Natalie Perea  for the graphic.