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Thursday 12 April 2018

Brighton-Bound Isaac Gracie Breaks Free Of Jeff Buckley Comparisons On New Hype Busting Debut Album

Isaac Gracie's eponymous début album is the sound of an artist bit-by-bit breaking through the hype and the seeds of doubt that stem from the heavy expectation that greeted breakthrough song Last Words.

The album is also the sound of a musician realising he is cut out for this. Most importantly, it documents the warts "n' all transition from disbelief in one's own ability to displaying a subtle confidence. 

Despite existing a thousand miles from the scrappy bedroom demos that brought Gracie to prominence, you first hear the cracks, the strains and the nagging fear that tests every creative. Then you hear the pay-off.

Recorded on-and-off between mid-2015 and late 2017, Gracie says his first work captures the "darkest, the roughest and most uncertain time in my life," while managing to examine this turmoil from a distance and a safer sanctuary. 

Its journey is one of self-reflection, he says, "of asking: "What is this?" "Who am I?" and trying to amicably resolve those questions." It finds answers, too. 

After finishing the record, Gracie began to realise his place in the world: "I've been gifted an opportunity that barely anyone gets," he says. "It"s my responsibility to make the most of it." 

The softly-softly, Dylan-nodding Last Words changed Gracie's life. 

No sooner had he written it, he was subject to big figure record deals and comparisons to hero Jeff Buckley in the press. 

For someone with no knowledge of the music industry and with only a handful more songs to his name, he didn't feel prepared for this recognition, or the fabled type of hyperbole heralding him as a one-of-a-kind songwriter.

He remembers the depths of his lowest ebb, writing night after night, with mechanical repetition and with no real progress: 

"I was like, "I'm not good! I can't write a song! You've got me wrong!" It's difficult with that gaze, because they want integrity, they want truth, they want honesty. But they also want a big old smash hit." 

Plenty of new talents develop in the background before being unveiled to the outside world as a finished article. 

As well as existing outside the norm of chart-busting or introspective songwriters, Gracie didn't have that liberty, so instead he developed under a glaring spotlight.

Aspiring musicians might not take pity, but Gracie wasn't an aspiring musician. He was an everyday guy, studying Creative Writing at University of East Anglia. 

"I just wanted to be in love. At that time, you're allowed such freedom. You get your own space, your own privacy, this ability to explore yourself. I wanted to be anything," he remembers. 

Uploading songs online cured a simple itch to project his thoughts. 

"For me, at that time of writing songs, it was purely to try and do justice to the things I was feeling, or my personal desire to have a creative output," he states. 

"It's like writing on a wall. I do that in my bedroom. Why does that matter? Nobody sees it. But it's important to me. It's this idea of putting something in the world, as opposed to it being in your head or in a locked drawer."

Gracie's struggles – of sudden prominence and living up to such promise – are already well-documented. 

But his début reveals how he stepped back from the spotlight and took the time sorely required to create something remarkable.

The self-titled "Isaac Gracie" will be released on the 13th April and he plays The Haunt, Brighton, on 25th April 2018.

by: Mike Cobley


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Credit: Tony Tree

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Photo by Delaney Brooks

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