All the Best, Isaac Hayes

Mark Kozelek

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All the Best, Isaac Hayes Review

by Fred Thomas

At a certain point, songwriter Mark Kozelek transitioned away from slow-moving indie songs built around ringing guitar figures into increasingly verbose, anecdotal songs that sound more like diary pages being read aloud than traditionally sung. While the instrumentals still showcased Kozelek's dazzling guitar playing, prolifically released albums issued both under his name and as Sun Kil Moon moved more towards play-by-play narrations of small moments. All the Best, Isaac Hayes is perhaps the most completely spoken word release from Kozelek so far, made of nine songs mainly comprised of his melody-less observations and light piano accompaniment. Like many of his albums issued after 2014's Sun Kil Moon LP Benji, Kozelek's songs hover around themes of travel, aging, and detailed descriptions of everyday experiences. As Kozelek's collections of ruminations go, All the Best, Isaac Hayes is one of the more consistent, flowing, and peaceful. The piano backing is a calm and complimentary bedding for lengthy travel diaries, offering friendly but unobtrusive clusters of melody. Songs are named after places, often drawing from experiences on tour. "San Francisco" starts the album, recalling a walk in the city where Kozelek and his partner see a bird caught in fishing wire. In "Vancouver" he reads an email exchange between himself and Jesu's Justin Broadrick verbatim. At over 90 minutes, the record becomes an ambient atmosphere unto itself. Petra Haden offers the album's only other voice, doing a brief impression of a drunk, bragging stranger Kozelek describes overhearing on a flight. Those already taken with Kozelek's rambling spoken style will enjoy the slightly different reading of it on All the Best, Isaac Hayes. The rolling piano instrumentals are the perfect backing for open-ended stories of tour experiences, boxing matches, and walking around various cities, taking everything in.

Track Listing - Disc 2

Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 Mark Kozelek 21:50 Amazon
2 Mark Kozelek 04:58 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick