Somewhere between the vast disparity of adulthood and childhood, or sweeping back and forth between the two extremes, Dave Isaacs howls and begs, explains and waxes poetic about any number of deep feelings in his new CD, “Prodigal Son.”
Indeed, the title of the project, though rather common, is perfect for this set of nine songs that cover the topics of the lonesome and the reckless, the wasteful and uncontrollably passionate actions and reactions of the human spirit.
From the start, Isaacs goes to his knees, making a myth of his devotion in “Isabella.” He hardly understands how there could be any reason but alchemy and other spells of magic to explain such a possession. As any good prodigal son would surrender under the circumstances, he cries, “it’s too late for sacrifices/I’m already gone.”
And, this prodigal son, of course, continues with measures of extreme behavior in “Never Giving Up.” Again he is adamant and staunch, as love becomes the addiction, and he is aware that “it’s so hard to balance pleasure with responsibility.” This, too, is why, in the next tune, he addresses “the children” in “Wolf At The Door.” Certainly, they are not, per se, really kids, but that immature part of us all that cannot balance pleasure with responsibility. Isaacs takes the cliché out of this phrase by symbolic murder, killing that awful wolf once and for all, leaving room again for the prodigal lifestyle to wander.
The symbols are rich, if not always original. However, the traditional symbols are the universal symbols and Isaacs knows just how to address them. “Into The Blue” takes the listener into the realm of love gone wrong (like there could be any other type for a prodigal son) and the moon in “The Moon” is the same moon Carl Sandburg believed was always there, friendly and smiling. Isaacs finds peace in his prodigal ways, no matter how self-destructive he becomes. He is a believer, not a complainer. “I do what I have to do/that’s what it means to be a man,” he sings in “What I Have To Do.” This treatise is as solid as any prodigal son who has looked his “demons in the and sent them on their way.”
It is not rationale, it is acceptance of one’s own nature that Isaacs subscribes to in these nine songs. That form of surrender is a special kind of courage, one that understands the ineffable feeling that “in a moment of grace everything becomes one.”
With a smooth vocal approach, a tender blend of masculine and feminine, Isaacs puts on a listener’s show with this CD. These are songs that don’t demand you to walk away after hearing them with haunting melodies. These are songs that live while they are being played, much to the moment of grace, itself. And, they are what I call “cobblestone rock,” more than traditional folk. They move down a damp and shadow-filled back street in some unmapped region of the poet’s mind and heart and you hear the beat of the rain, you sense the whisper of death and love all around and you cannot help but realize that you, too, walk down that uneven street. You, too, are swept away by Isabella.