It’s not exactly surprising to hear Alex Izenberg’s list of idols: Van Morrison, Carole King, Van Dyke Parks. Izenberg’s second album, Caravan Château, is a 1970s-infused dream from a master of poetry. Production by Grizzly Bear’s Chris Taylor and Foxygen’s Jonathan Rado help mould Izenberg’s emotional reckoning into a layered, enjoyable listen embroidered with meditative atmospherics.
The album is hinged on balance, something Izenberg struggled to find in his own life after being diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia in 2012. While he figured out how to move forward professionally and emotionally Izenberg began to write, finding equilibrium in soft, ethereal vocals and rich, dazzling instrumentals. The follow-up to 2015’s Harlequin, this record as a whole is dreamy, but some similar songs blend together in memory. However, a few stand out.
‘December 30th’, starting with the heart-breaking question “Do you remember / the way we were / before you left on your own?”, is a track destined to be remembered as one of those happy-sad songs listeners turn to when they want to feel something deep in their gut, and could easily find company alongside Elliott Smith or Cat Stevens. Another track to look out for is ‘Saffron Glimpse’, a lowkey but catchy song about love and missed connections backed with cozy strings. It’s a shining moment in a jewel-encrusted project about stopping to fully take in the life that’s happening around us and finding our place in the tapestry of a wide world.
Alex Izenberg and his collaborators are clearly skilled at layering to create a full, unique sound, but what really catches my interest is the vulnerability Izenberg displays in the name of finding balance. This comes through strongest in the quieter, slower songs on Caravan Château, which allow lyrics to shine. This album will leave listeners peaceful but reflective, and wanting to hear what comes next from this gentle soul.