Isaac Birchall, originally a solo “heavy folk” performer who calls Ruthin, Wales his hometown, recently has teamed up with three other musicians Andy Cooper – Drums, Matty Hawker – Bass and Jake Vaughan-Evans – Guitar to do what any ever-evolving solo musician wishes to do at some point, explore and perform his music in a new, more effective way.
Isaac Birchall has recently released a collection of songs in an album called Where We Are and has asked us at unZined to review it. Being all about promotion and the love of hearing new music, we were more than happy to oblige.
The song collection starts off by hitting you with a fast strummed acoustic from the start. Listening to Believer you can see why the band class their music as being “heavy folk”. Along with the acoustic we get a nice occasional drum roll throughout the start of the song and well sung vocals, which are powerful gritty and full of emotion, everything you’d expect from a heavy metal influenced singer. The chorus kicks off and with the inclusion of a nice sounding electric guitar, the song becomes something new bringing all the instruments into play, coming short of a fully fledged heavy rock song but still retaining enough folk-y goodness. An excellent start to their release and I’m looking forward to hearing the rest.
Don’t Send me Away is the track that welcomes us next, which starts off softly, but as it builds up as the minutes pass, Isaac showcases another side of his singing ability. This time his clean powerful vocals sing us through this love-lost ballad. Complete with nice upbeat percussion, background electric and “jangly” acoustic this track sounds well-produced, catchy and great to listen to.
Isaac and co include some nice sounding piano into the mix with the next track, which compliments the acoustic riff that accompanies it. Isaac’s vocals return to the other vocal style he is comfortable in singing in Bones, a raw, energetic heavier sounding style, which contrasts the clean piano and drums. It’s interesting to hear and I can’t recall having heard anything like it. Very unique. As the song ups the ante, the inclusion of haunting strings in the background adds to the tension and brings us to the close. Overall, a surprising emotional addition to the release, one which has made me glad I listened to this collection.
Next up Gardens, a track which starts with a clean style of acoustic / electric guitar sound. After the intro, Isaac gets intimate with his audience with just acoustic and softly sung vocals, a departure from his other songs, showing he doesn’t always need to sing as powerful to get his story across. Around the mid-point the inclusion of a soft sounding electric gives the song the build up it needs before tapering off again towards the end. A beautiful song, full of emotion and elegance, showing Isaac Birchall’s diversity in whatever they produce.
Back to an uptempo number now and so far the fastest from the release. A fast militaristic style drum welcomes us with a spritely acoustic. Isaac’s vocals find a median between his really raw and his super soft vocals, which suits the song well. What if I’m You is a fast paced catchy number, which doesn’t relent to a softer shade until its mid point, wherein it breaks it all down with a nice sounding piano solo. It all builds back up to the chorus, with expertly sung vocals and harmony, fast drums and guitar. Overall, one of the stronger songs from the release and most enjoyable.
In Omen, the bands next track, Isaac’s vocals are introduced straightaway without so much of an intro. He’s joined again by a nice sounding acoustic sound and furthermore as the seconds go by, by piano, which he has utilised well to portray the emotion in his songs. The drums, as heard throughout this collection of songs, has a military style sound as it continues through the song. Electric, acoustic and a steady paced drum beat bring us through the songs chorus, which together sounds amazing. A great guitar solo, the first of its kind, if I recall right, from the release. Listen to how well the solo is played makes me want more similar sounding riffs. Maybe with any further releases the band may incorporate some.
The last, but by no means least, Say it Tonight, starts with a nice military sounding drum again and soft guitar, but don’t let that fool you, as after the intro, we are welcomed yet again to the great sounding electric/acoustic combo and uptempo drums that have worked so well in previous songs. There’s enough breaks in tempo throughout the song to make it less repetitive. The chorus is catchy and the vocals are well-written. Overall, a great sounding, well produced and structured song.
Verdict: If listened to in order, Where We are gives a good blend of light and shade; from uptempo numbers, What if I’m You to mellow ballads such as Gardens. As promised in their description of their music, IsaIsaac Birchall have delivered. They have produced a heavy / folk rock sound, which surprisingly sound good together, with its acoustic / electric guitar mix, diverse range in vocal styles and great accompaniment from bass and drums. Its clear to see why Isaac has recruited musicians to accompany him when performing as it appears his songs can somehow fully be appreciated with their help. Overall, a fantastic release, one which is diverse, unique and entertaining.
Where We Are is available to buy through their Bandcamp profile for a reasonable price.
To find out more about Isaac Birchall yourself, check the links below: