Isaac Indiana - Memoirs Of A Memory Boy

by Laura Clarke

My enthusiasm for Isaac Indiana’s third studio release was not in vain. While it’s slightly rustic around the edges, many of the tracks on Memoirs Of A Memory Boy could compete with artists signed, sealed and delivered by record labels. The songs are diverse yet complimentary, providing an unpredictable compilation of songs.

Half Way Night is certainly an attention grabbing introduction to the EP. The strong rhythm of the drums is snappy and compelling, melting into a snazzy symphony with the bass and lead guitars. I particularly enjoyed the guitar solo which greets us two minutes in, accompanied by a diversifying muffled effect. A fierce drum-backing coolly builds up to the penultimate chorus, adding to the number’s electric melody.

The lyrics to Come A Long Way supersede Half Way Night in quality; they seem to carry greater feeling. The beautiful imagery of sunlight, leaves, fire, and moonlight reminds me of Indian summertime when the warm weather cools and nature begins to adjust. The subtle sadness which would consume fellow summer enthusiasts goes in tandem with reminiscent undertones of an acute memory. The beat approaching the second verse quickens slightly, adding a layer of anticipation. Likewise, threaded through the second chorus is the rapid pulsation of drums, creating an additional floor of emotion to the words: “Take my hand”, “Slow footsteps”, and “You’ve come a long way to falter now”. The last chorus is improved by an angelic harmony of tones, becoming acapella as the drums, guitar, and piano cease. All-in-all, this is a lovely and romantic track.

Kick It Home presents a significant transition in style. I detect sounds with greater ferocity not dissimilar to The Who – although I am writing this late in the evening while drugged up on Strepsils (Honey & Lemon – a classic hit). The guitar and piano are exceptionally triumphant in this track – the awesome staccato duet of notes inspires a head-bobbing dance routine (albeit partly resulting from my delirious, cold-induced state).

Madiba, which was released back in June following an exciting launch party in the Cavern, has a particularly interesting back story (see my feature, A Year In The Life Of Isaac Indiana, for details – all current or potential friendships terminated if you decline). In a nutshell, the song is inspired by Nelson Mandela’s life. I relished the fast pace of the guitar here; it provided a pleasant antithesis to the soft timbre of the verses. “I’ll never get it back,” is stated three quarters of the way through and this is a powerful section; there are plenty of special elements contained in this little snippet including crowd vocals and an easing of the music which suddenly bursts into the aforementioned deep pulsation of the guitar. The song ends gradually - contrasting with the more abrupt conclusion to Half Way Night - and respectfully representing the ending of a remarkable life. The closing repetition of words sung at the dawn of the two verses appears to illustrate the legacy of Nelson Mandela living on.

A clear indication of Isaac Indiana’s progression towards a heavier groove is reflected in Peaks. The song bursts to life with a skilfully presented guitar and drum formation. It is a shame that the lyrics are difficult to depict; perhaps the more resonant style should have been quietened marginally in this number.

By contrast, the vocals in Tempest are as cool as a cucumber. The snappy staccato would not be out of place during the opening credits to a Julia Roberts film (a high calibre compliment). I am not entirely sure how to expand upon that statement but give the track a listen before you judge the vibes I am getting. Agreeably, the keys resemble a late 80s synth, which again demonstrates diversity and keeps the EP exciting. This is one of those late night car journey songs – “Oooh it gets better,” makes me visualise the yellow glow of streetlights while traffic whizzes past. The following vocals are strongly declared as the electric guitar bursts with musical zeal, causing the listener to feel as bold and assertive in that moment as the instruments responsible for the feeling. The piece transitions between two choruses with a hand-clapping chant:

I know something inside me is dragging me down.

An exuberant growl emphasises the last three words. Performed live at the Cavern at the Launch in June, this atmospheric track pushed the gig up a level. Yet another song on this EP I could give a big fat high five to.

Overall, this EP is a collection of real, honest music with class. A little tweaking could be given here and there in relation to audibility of the vocals, but ultimately Memoirs Of A Memory Boy is a winner.