Songwriter/storyteller/farmer ISMAY will release a new album entitled Desert Pavement, out January 26, 2024. Desert Pavement is a collection of transcendent American roots songs, full of folky textures and alt-country stylings that invokes a variety of traditional and contemporary sounds. Desert Pavement follows ISMAY’s critically acclaimed 2020 debut Songs of Sonoma Mountain and continues their lyrical exploration of life spent on the land.
ISMAY is Avery Hellman, a Bay Area native who creates rich, atmospheric songs that are heavily influenced by the California ranch where they worked in their 20s. On the sparse track “The Golden Palomino,” Hellman shares the tale of a miraculous moment with a horse while feeding animals in the pasture. Watch the lyric video HERE and listen to the track on your favorite streaming service HERE. Hellman created an intimate acoustic performance of “The Golden Palomino” for Western AF. Watch HERE.
Hellman grew up attending Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, the music festival launched by their grandfather, Warren Hellman, and incorporated the melting pot of sounds that is California into their being. Desert Pavement evokes the landscapes of rural land and days of yore. “Shearer & the Darby Ram,” the album’s opening track, is a modern-day folk tale, blending acoustic guitars with an imaginative storyline about a larger-than-life ram whose wool changes a family’s fortune. “Stranger in the Barn” is a narrative about a family who discovers a drifter sleeping in the sheep barn. Rather than run him off, the family embraces the newcomer like one of their own. “The Dove, The Shrew, & The Raccoon” blends genres, layering American folk with south-of-the-border rhythms, while “Streaming Family” — a song about modern technology’s impact on our daily lives — pits traditional instrumentation against a contemporary message.
Desert Pavement was recorded in Asheville, NC at Echo Mountain Recording with producer Andrew Marlin of Watchhouse (formerly Mandolin Orange). Marlin also contributes on piano, acoustic guitar, mandolin and backing vocals. They captured the songs in a series of live takes in five days. Hellman says, “The whole band played together, all at once, and I tracked my vocals live. A big part of the live recording process is embracing the imperfections of a performance, and Desert Pavement sounds real and raw to me.”
ISMAY has a number of performances in the works, including a set at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada on January 29th. Additional tour dates will be announced shortly.
ISMAY 2024 U.S. Tour Dates
November 4 – Seattle, WA – Freakout Festival
January 28 – Mill Valley, CA – Sweetwater Mill Valley
January 29 – Elko, Nevada – National Cowboy Poetry Gathering
February 9 – Ojai, CA – Deer Lodge with Kelly McFarling
February 10 – Big Sur, CA – Fernwood Resort with Kelly McFarling
February 21-25 – Kansas City, MO – Folk Alliance International official showcase artist