GUITAR LEGEND Dave Isaacs’ “I Like What I SEE”
Dave Isaacs’ “I Like What I See” has the sort of song title where listeners can’t guess what the track sounds like. Issacs steeps his new single a Mississippi Delta blues sound without ever sounding imitative. It’s no small accomplishment. There’s definitely nothing new under the sun for musicians with blues influences but the one remaining open avenue, imposing personality on the material. You get a sense, even if just a glimpse, of the man here, the passions ruling him, his influences, his vision of the world. It may seem like a bold thing to say about, essentially, a pop song, but Issacs’ songwriting is a cut above standard fare.
He keeps the instrumentation to a minimum and on point. Attentive listeners will hear a lot of space in “I Like What I See” without ever marring the song’s tempo. Allowing the song an opportunity to “breathe” enhances its dramatic potential and that’s the case here as the track’s patient development draws listeners in piecemeal rather than with a single dramatic moment. Each of the song’s moving parts plays a crucial role in its overall effect on listeners, but they are likewise laid out in a complementary fashion. The whole is, thankfully, greater than the sum of its individual parts.
There’s plenty of blues in this song, it’s true, but there’s an understated country music influence as well. You hear it along the margins, in the song’s lonesome mood, and Issacs wisely never overplays it. Blues and country music share a lot of common ground and he exploits that for the song’s and listener’s benefit. It never strikes a false note, however, and his reverence for the styles is obvious.
It’s never too reverential. Isaacs’ “I Like What I See” delivers a distinctly modern take on time-tested forms and has its own identity. It comes across in a variety of ways. Isaacs’ impassioned singing helps create a mood and has slight prominence in the mix, but the accompaniment matches his eloquence. The spaces in the music are crucial, as well, in claiming the style as his own.
It feels and sounds like an intensely personal statement. It doesn’t necessarily matter if it is or not and it’s an imaginative effort, nonetheless. The ability to transmute personal experiences into affecting performed art can come from several different angles and you get the feeling listening to “I Like What I See” that Isaacs is capable of much more than he’s letting on. We can be happy, however, with what he’s given us.
His new single bodes well for his forthcoming album Choogle. Issacs has been at this game for a while now, writing, recording albums, performing, but “I Like What I See” shows no signs of him slowing down. If anything, his talents are deepening with the passage of time – his feeling for nuance, emotion, and compositional brevity are all key parts of what makes this new song such a resounding success. Let’s hope the rest of his new album follows up on its promise.