Published Aug 14, 2019Corey Isenor's latest album, Absinthe & Smoke, feels delicate and gentle, especially when compared to his backlog of alt-country records. His newer sound, which doesn't abandon his lush-leaning alt-country so much as configure it into certified lush folk-pop, attempts to balance the earthy and ethereal: lead jazzy guitars thickly bend and rise and sweet-ringing acoustics entangle with complacent electric riffs that describe loneliness, and drums brush on without hurry.
On "Snowbirds" a lonestar guitar walks ahead of a twiggy drum while a violin romanticizes their on-again off-again relationship. On the title track, Isenor hazards a wobbly synth and a slide guitar that whispers in the shadows.
Although Isenor uses a variety of sounds, they're unified in their ethos of intricate, inventive mellowness. It also helps that Isenor's voice — which gestures toward the sublime, rather than displaying it and finds the most resonance describing youthful disaffection, complicated idealism, and simple heartbreak — seems comfortable surrounded by most iterations of orchestral folk. This, along with Isenor's arrangements that can't help but evoke lush, rural Canadian landscapes, affords Absinthe & Smoke a cohesive sense of place and voice.
Taken together, Isenor's first formal foray into folk-pop feels at once grounded and flighty, idealistic and unsentimental, exploratory and unified. (So Sorry)