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Silver Lightning from a Black Sky

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Album Review

Kenneth Ishak hails from Norway where he used to front the power pop group Beezewax. On this solo outing, Ishak populates the same "fjord folk" turf as his fellow Scandinavian performers Tobias Forberg, Jens Lekman, and Loney Dear; however, he balances chamber pop quietude with invigorating jolts of hooky rock. After "The Passionate" opens the album with a wistful slice of orchestral bedroom pop, Ishak kicks up the tempo with "New Rising Sun," a catchy tune fueled by bongo-like percussions and a lithe George Harrison-ish guitar line. Ishak's gently melodic music soars early in the disc through a trio of well-crafted tracks: the lushly elegant "Snakes in the Grass," the lovely piano ballad "Anytime, Kid," and the harder rocking "Hell," which brings to mind the work of Tommy Keane and Matthew Sweet. He hits another musical peak with the pairing of the mini-epic "Sös " and the passion-filled rocker "Don't Touch My Brother," a song addressing his growing up in a multi-ethnic family in Norway. Ishak showcases his multi-instrument prowess throughout the album, playing instruments standard (guitar, bass and keyboards) to exotic (glockenspiel, Mellotron, and omnichord). He wisely doesn't try to do it all but, along with producer and fellow multi-instrumentalist Jorgen Wall, creates an alluringly constructed folk-pop subtly enhanced with strings and horns. While the arrangements are full-bodied, they never overwhelm Ishak's gentle vocals. His often multi-tracked voice floats over his tunes but one can feel his emotions coursing through songs like "Don't Touch My Brother" while he brings an appropriate edginess to "Highway of Madness." Although his lyrics tend to be on the more impressionistic side, they still nicely convey his melancholic feelings, and there are enough sharp lines (like "I've got my hope stuck like chewing gum on my heel") that the words avoid being too ephemeral. Silver Lightning from a Black Sky reveals an artist striking a terrific musical balance between light and dark, hard and soft. It's a captivating work from a musician well worth keeping an eye on.

Customer Reviews

Lucky find - strong, strong album

I found this album looking for something else on iTunes and decided to give it a spin. What a great indie album! It recalls some good indie rock from the early to mid 90s (think The Connells, The House of Love) with some fine melodies and pleasing, punchy guitar. I could picture playing this as a savvy college kid driving the long way home after a fine evening on the town with my girl circa 1994. This is a great record and a very pleasant surprise.

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Silver Lightning from a Black Sky, Kenneth Ishak
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  • $9.99
  • Genres: Pop, Music, Pop/Rock
  • Released: Nov 05, 2007

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