Local Review: Angela Isaacs – Missing Cat!
Local Music Reviews
Angela Isaacs = Indigo Girls + Natalie Merchant
I think country music can be appreciated more than just something to be written off on a Tinder profile as a genre people are either “for” or “against.” Certainly, a song featuring a glass guitar slide doesn’t mean we should expect a man singing about his truck, and even if it does, the track should still be given a slice of subjectivity. If you can move past a stereotype that shields the genre, something very interesting about country music is revealed. Angela Isaacs’ Missing Cat! hits that nail on the head. It could be argued “that nail” is a glass slide used in a certain and tasteful way (never overused). Beyond that, there’s a phenomenon present in Missing Cat! where the listener understands solely from the music that Isaacs has a deeply profound relationship with life and nature.
There’s nothing showy about Missing Cat!. It’s a humble collection of songs that are rooted in classic acoustic sound. The album doesn’t ask for publicity, but for listeners who have a hefty vulnerability. Isaacs takes each song on a journey containing some type of life lesson in prose. The song structure of each track makes it easy for the listener to follow as the momentum picks up, and then Isaacs delivers a catchy and gutsy chorus, followed by a bridge.
The song “Earthquake” does a good job of this. It’s an upbeat song to begin with and introduces a nice church organ that anchors the rest of the song. The layout of the lyrics in the chorus make it extremely singable, interesting and dramatic. The lines of lyrics don’t necessarily match up directly with the lines of the chord progression, but it elevates the song: “Do you remember that earthquake in the spring? There’s more than / Cracks in the brick that’s happening here with me / I’m picking through / Piece by piece to see what I can find.” The chorus in “Earthquake” was my favorite moment of the whole collection.
One thing that’s impressive about Missing Cat! is the amount of traditional instruments featured, such as clarinet, upright bass and fiddle. You never hear an instrument that’s too complex for a backyard party or a cabin fire. As I started to understand Isaacs as an artist and listened more, I began seeing vivid visuals of green grass and days hiking somewhere foreign to me.
These images were no doubt a pragmatic message of a candid life through Isaacs eyes. Her message makes life sound easy but in an honest way. In the fifth track, a breakup song called “Leaving You This Time,” there’s a line that’s unbearably simple, where Isaacs sings, “I’ve been sad before but I was still alright.” On paper, it’s a personal statement, but when sung and led by an organ, a guitar and a set of drums, the words unlocked an emotional space that only a country song can.
This is the phenomenon I’m talking about. When it’s right, it’s the closest thing to vitamin D in a dark room. Find Missing Cat! on Spotify and Bandcamp and check out Isaacs on Instagram @angjisaacs. –Mary Culbertson
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