“It’s a smorgasbord of artistry, and the resulting eight tracks deliver an unapologetically vast and stunning range of sound, color, style, and substance”, is what Atwood Magazine had to say about Kenneth Ishak’s latest album Native Tongue. Released in Nov. 2021, the album is the 5th solo effort from the founding member of
Norwegian cult indie rock group Beezewax, and his first solo effort since 2011.
The album is based around the well tuned classic songwriting skills Ishak has honed over the course of 16 albums, but a guiding light for the sessions was legendary artist Arthur Russell. “Arthur Russell was really important,” explains Ishak. Yeah, “His whole universe, his little bubble, but it's a really big universe. He was like a really strong influence in just the fact that I wanted to make a record.” And you can hear this influence on the finished album, with Russell’s ability to connect myriad ideas to a funky rhythm, his ability to let space do as much of the work of the music and his penchant for making the experimental accessible, all present. Other influences in Elliott Smith and Joni Mitchell can be heard in the songwriting and melodic quirks, but Native
Tongue is far from aping classics and is even a leap from Ishak’s usual sound. The new elements of the sound most likely come from the exceptional team of collaborators Ishak brought in for the recording. The album is produced by Lars Horntveth of Jaga Jazzist and mixed by The Ruby Suns’ Ryan McPhun, both of whom contribute as musicians and band members on the album.