About four years ago, in a dingy pub-cum-gig-venue in Norwich, England (called, if I remember correctly, The Queen Charlotte, located about five minutes from my then front door with a splendid line of Iced Strawberry Daiquiris at £3 per giant-sized pitcher), I saw Sam Isaac for the first time. Squished in between the bar and a sea of punters, mostly students, Sam stood in the dimly lit venue with just a microphone and his acoustic and played his heart out. I was hooked.
I’m not entirely sure how I came to know about Sam Isaac. I think it was a result of many hours listening to the delightful Welsh tones of Radio 1’s Huw Stephens on his Introducing… slot. Whatever the story, sitting in The Queen Charlotte, no doubt supping a sugary ice-cold beverage, I found myself tunelessly singing away to a beautiful song that was washing over the crowd. Much to the amusement of my friend Annette. (Or possibly her distress…) Yet I had no idea what it was, or who it was standing mere feet in front of me. (We didn’t even realise there was a gig on at the pub to start with). I later came to know that the song was called Sideways (which I thoroughly recommend you get a copy of somehow) and the ginger man with a guitar was called Sam.
Think Ed Sheeran meets Ben Howard via Noah and the Whale and you’ll get an idea of what this UK-based singer-songwriter sounds like. But Sam was around long before Ben and Ed and probably Noah really made an impact on the British music scene. Somehow though, the music loving public haven’t appeared to be as taken with Sam as with these other singer-songwriters.
Recorded at home, over the course of a year, When The Lights Went Out is a welcome return from Mr Isaac. It’s a chilled, beautiful little album, perfect for relaxing in the last of the summer days or for running through parks covered in crisp autumn leaves or for a indie film soundtrack (most suited to films in the vein of Garden State, Once, etc).
It might not be an album to fervently write home about, it might not dramatically change your life, but it will certainly brighten your day as it rotates round to play on your iPod. Well, I like it anyway.