Kendall Recommends: Izaak Opatz

“Baby, I just want to be passionate again /

No one’s really made the hairs on my heart stand up on, stand up on end.”

- from "Got to Me Since"

Izaak Opatz recently popped into my inbox via Mama Bird Records, announcing the release of his new album, Mariachi Static.

Do you know that distinct feeling of elation, when you decide to try a new artist, knowing nothing, expecting nothing...and the very first sounds hit you like a little "you didn't know this is what you wanted today" kidney punch? I opened the Mama Bird link and started the first track, “Got to Me Since.” It sounded familiar immediately - one of those sneaky assertive "we're already friends, didn’t you miss me?” feelings. I had missed it, where has it been in my life? Hence, emailing Izaak immediately about photos for his Seattle show at the Sunset Tavern the following week and now writing this little blurby blog post about it. Because it's great and it makes me feel excited and fresh!

Izaak Opatz live at the Sunset Tavern Ballard Seattle Kendall Rock Photography

My Montana friends laugh and say "You're late to the game, why didn't you listen to Izaak's old band, The Best Westerns (fav track, "Lubbock for Love")? Didn’t you notice that he co-wrote one of your favorite Jonny Fritz songs? I hadn’t. I’ve got some ground to catch up on this, trail-crew working, leather crafting, Montana outside-boy clever clever songwriter, starting with this new release. Each track is explorable, masterful and waiting for you to notice something special and new each time you listen.

Beyond the perfectly produced sweet mountain groove this album's got going on, each song is loaded with brilliant lyricism. They sound so good recorded, but you can imagine hearing them covered around a campfire, zoned out and soaking in each word waiting to ask “who’s that by?”

"She gave me love/under the table,

I was hard-pressed into thinking straight,

I been so long/dreaming of her ankles,

unsocked and locked across the back of my waist."

"I had read the terms and conditions /

stating that by the this kiss you don't belong to me /

I could have read the fine print a little closer but /

I couldn't wait to tick that little box that says I agree."

- from "Limited Liability"

Favorite Track : "Arm's Length Away"

My favorite track from Mariachi Static right now is "Arms Length Away." It could be my favorite because of the small-town-wave-road-driving beat, or the sweet harmonies crooning in my right ear, or the way you can't tell at first if it's the cutest sunshine-y song or the saddest little achy late night phone note. I think it is the way the lyrics make me smile in solidarity, a happy comforting feeling that comes from hearing some of your own late night empty bed thoughts articulated playfully and sweetly. I became very fond of this song very fast. It's perfectly crafted. Listen.

I'm glad I made it to Ballard from family dinner in time to snap these pics of Izaak and hear his full set. Super excited to keep up with the success of this album and with whatever he does next. Now I also really want one of his handcrafted visors....