“We all break a little when we fall”: Folk Farmer Gregory Alan Isakov Returns with “The Fall,” a Hauntingly Beautiful Song of Life’s Trapeze Act

Gregory Alan Isakov © Glen Ross
Gregory Alan Isakov © Glen Ross
Folk farmer Gregory Alan Isakov shows us that we’re all trapeze acts in “The Fall,” a cinematic, breathtakingly beautiful song of failure and acceptance.
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Stream: “The Fall” – Gregory Alan Isakov

It’s one thing to talk about accepting our imperfection and fragility, but it’s another thing to experience those qualities in everyday life. How do we handle ourselves when we’re confronted with our own raw, flawed humanity? Do we internalize and carry that around as our forever baggage, or do we accept it as our truth and simply… let it go?

The trapeze artist was always a spectacle of the circus. People flocked from miles and miles around to watch performers fly through the air, walk confidently across razor-thin wires, and otherwise defy the laws of nature itself. This job was not without its risks, and every so often, the acrobat would fall from grace, and their body would plummet to the ground. That itself – the fall – was an event to behold: The god-like man, brought back down to Earth.

Of course, no sooner had they landed, than they were right back up in the sky.

We could all learn a thing or two from such fortitude. You and I may not perform to an audience on a nightly basis, but each of us is a trapeze artist or tightrope walker of some kind – a truth made abundantly clear in singer/songwriter Gregory Alan Isakov’s cinematic new single. An intimate, breathtakingly beautiful folk song of failure and acceptance, “The Fall” forces us to confront our imperfections and mistakes, all while keeping in mind that age-old mantra: The show must go on.

Appaloosa Bones - Gregory Alan Isakov
Appaloosa Bones – Gregory Alan Isakov
The fall, the fall, the fall
I keep stumbling back…
Ivory bone opera glass
Angles of attack
You heard blood was thick,
brothers and sisters, but ya
don’t know where anybody’s at
Time was a bust,
you thought you’d better be tough
Nobody gets past

The trembling wire

Released May 17, 2023, “The Fall” is Gregory Alan Isakov’s first song in nearly five years and the lead single off his forthcoming sixth studio album, Appaloosa Bones (out August 18 via Dualtone Records and Isakov’s own label, Suitcase Town Music).

Gregory Alan Isakov © Glen Ross
Gregory Alan Isakov © Glen Ross

Isakov’s first original release since 2018’s Grammy Award-nominated Evening Machines finds the Colorado-based folk artist and farmer in a moment of deep introspection. Brooding pianos, forlorn guitars, and heavy drums set a melancholic scene, upon which Isakov invites us into an old theater as he tells tale of a trapeze artist sometime in the 1800s. “Time was a bust, you thought you’d better be tough,” he sings, his voice a beacon of rising, radiant emotion. “Nobody gets past the trembling wire.”

The chorus (if we can call it that?) pulls us out of this 19th Century vision of flights and falls for just long enough to hear, see, feel, the metaphor. There’s passion and pain in Isakov’s voice as he evokes the intensity of a single moment:

All eyes on you now, on you
We’re all holding our breath
All eyes on you now, on you
still holding our breath
Gregory Alan Isakov © Glen Ross
Gregory Alan Isakov © Glen Ross

Directed by Jasmine McGlade (director, fencer and executive producer, LA LA Land) and animated by Ruth Lingford (Head of Animation, Harvard University), Isakov’s “The Fall” music video never takes us into the big tent itself, but rather brings all of the acts to life out into the desert, where we slowly bear witness to what can only be described as a surrealist, psychedelic circus-y fever dream.

It’s a trip.

“Gregory’s music is so poignant, and ‘The Fall’ in particular has such a powerful, spiritual quality to it,” McGlade shares. “I knew I wanted to make a video immersed in nature that fit with [his] aesthetic and the emotional realm of the song, while also creating characters and vintage, old-timey elements that connect with the lyrics. The piece, perhaps like the song, should ultimately say something about the human condition, and what it means to be alive — in a way that is a bit surrealist.”

We all break a little
We all break a little
We all break a little when we fall
And everybody keeps saying,
“Get up, get up”
The fall, the fall, the fall

“Go on, get up”
The fall, the fall, the fall

We try our best not to focus or even think about on the fall in our daily comings and goings, but it’s important that we remember that to fall is only human. “We all break a little when we fall,” Isakov sings, his words of wisdom ringing out full of love, and warmth across his stormy sonic terrain. Isakov’s celebrated brand of folk music has long carried with it a kind of tender turbulence – a marriage of dark and light qualities full of as much intimacy as they have intensity.

“The Fall” leans into that singular, stormy space: Isakov’s first single in five years reminds us to go on, get up; the fall is not the end, but a natural part of life’s ebb and flow.

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Stream: “The Fall” – Gregory Alan Isakov

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Appaloosa Bones - Gregory Alan Isakov

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