Colorado-based singer/songwriter Gregory Alan Isakov wanted to “pare it all back” for new album Appaloosa Bones from Dualtone Records. That was a big departure from the approach to his Grammy-nominated 2018 album, Evening Machines.
I set out to make a record that was really bare bones. I wanted to go backward a little bit, because Evening Machines was such a deep dive into arrangements. I wanted to have more of a raw experience with this one.
Isakov played many of the instruments on Appaloosa Bones himself. He recorded in a studio in a barn on his property outside of Boulder, Colorado, where he helps grow produce for CSA members, local restaurants, and an area food bank. Though the resulting album is intimate, it is not exactly spare.
Some of the new songs even have traditional structures, like choruses, though Isakov continues:
I’m always the campfire song ruiner. I love a chorus, I’m a huge pop music fan, but I don’t usually think of songs like verse-chorus-bridge. They’re sort of just a ride, you know? I hope they take the listener some place different than where they started.
Born in South Africa, Isakov immigrated with his family to Philadelphia in 1986. After horticulture school in Boulder, he settled down in Colorado and began making music, including This Empty Northern Hemisphere (2009), The Weatherman (2013), and a 2016 album he recorded with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra.