Isadora Eden – Forget What Makes It Glow: Album Review

Isadora Eden offers songs of desperation, desolation, disappointment and frustration – lovingly packaged in a fuzzy, folky, psychedelic wrapper.

Release Date:  14th July 2023

Label: Self Release

Formats: Vinyl / Digital

A native of Massachusetts and now based in Denver, Colorado, Isadora Eden is building an enviable reputation for her ability to articulate challenging topics in her music.  And that’s an ability that she demonstrates repeatedly on her debut album, Forget What Makes It Glow, as she tackles such thorny subjects as surviving abuse, religion, nostalgia, love, loss, and perhaps above all else, desperation.

Isadora’s music has been described variously as ‘fuzz folk’ and “A blend of indie rock, shoegaze and folk,” which is a fair start, but I’d also add terms like psychedelia and intense introspection to that gumbo, if we want it to convey a more complete picture.  She lists The Cure, Tomberlin, Elliott Smith, Frightened Rabbit and Soccer Mommy amongst her formative influences but, in reality, the music she makes is hers, and hers alone.

Isadora already has a string of EP releases to her name, most recently, a 2018 6-track collection of songs from her favourite artists; for Forget What Makes It Glow, she’s enlisted the help of close friend and co-writer Sumner Erhard, who plays bass, drums and percussion throughout the album, and she’s also secured inputs from Kelley Williams who adds keyboards and guitar to a couple of tracks and of Nina de Freitas, who chips in with backing vocals.  She’s made some wise choices; the contributions from Sumner, in particular, add depth, breadth, sweetening and richness to a collection of emotionally raw songs that might just be too bitter to swallow if taken alone.

Isadora explains the interaction between Sumner and herself: “I really like sad music a lot more than Sumner does, and I think that’s what makes it a nice balance.  I love sad music, but I don’t want to write a full album that’s just slow and relentless.  I think, writing with Sumner, he brings a little bit more of an upbeat element.”

Sumner Erhard and Isadora Eden

Forget What It Takes To Make It Glow gets underway with Disintegration, a short, spacy collection of sounds that yield to the dreamy Mirror, a song that sets the template for the rest of the album.  Isadora’s vulnerable vocal sits way down in the mix as she delivers her lyrics of hopelessness and mundanity to a backing that grows from a simple acoustic accompaniment into something grand and psychedelic.

Sumner’s bass is well to the fore for BloodyMary, the album’s current single.  Isadora’s vocals are still low in the mix, but there’s a lot more confidence evident now, and the track – with its restrained guitars that occasionally cut loose in a most satisfying way – is one of the album’s strongest.  As Isadora explains: “BloodyMary is about the dissonance of having really good and really bad things happening to you simultaneously – for example, planning a pool-based staycation the day your city has the worst air quality in the world, or having a great night and waking up to find your cat has died.”

A cat. This one is, happily, alive. Her name is Poppy.

Isadora reverts to her vulnerable persona for the folky Drive Thru, but there’s a real intimacy that begins to emerge as the song progresses, and the coda seems to bring a few rays of sunshine to ease the desolate situation described in the song’s lyrics.  The title to the lead single, Haunted, is certainly well-chosen – the music is eerie and ghostly, even though Isadora’s lyrics are firmly anchored to the earthly reality of a shattered relationship, and the anger and self-pity of the situation come across strongly in Isadora’s vocal delivery. 

Relationship disintegration remains the theme for the plodding Hand-me-Downs, with Isadora’s voice almost drowning under the weight of the chiming, churning, distorted guitars, before the intensity rises for the disturbing, desperate, Still – the second of the three singles taken from the album.  Described by Isadora as “a treatise on enduring love of all kinds, not just the romantic kind,” the lyrics convey vividly the emotions suffered by someone trapped in a physical and mental space from which there is no escape.  The jangly indie guitars and the slow yet relentless pace add to the intensity of an excellent song.

The tuneful, reflective, What Else Is On would almost pass for a Broadway ballad – that is, if it wasn’t for the deliberately lo-fi production, the fatalistic vocal, the sparse backing and the lyrics of loss and utter desolation, before things move in a markedly more upbeat direction – musically at least – with Rocks.  The tune is vibrant, and Sumner drives things along with a wonderful bass part, but Isadora’s lyrics – “…throwing rocks at the window/ of someone I convinced myself I loved/ f*cking with the details, wishing there was a lesson to be learned” – still manage skillfully to avoid any offer of hope.

The lyrics to Hands once again see Isadora remain trapped in a hope-free situation, this time to a lush backing of precise percussion, rich bass and sparkly sprinkles of guitar but, just as the listener is perhaps fully convinced that there’s nothing left to live for, Isadora offers a glimmer of hope with the album’s closing track, I Don’t Need It Like I Did…

…It’s not a vivid ray of hope, but the song’s lyrics do seem to contain a shred of determination to move on from the desolation, desperation, disappointment and frustration described so eloquently in the previous ten tracks.  The tune is dreamy, with soaring guitars grounded by Sumner’s throbbing bass – the perfect background to Isadora’s search for the “Exit” door.

Watch the official video to BloodyMary, the latest single to be taken from the album, here:

Isadora Eden: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Bandcamp / YouTube

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