Like many of his favorite songwriters (John Hartford, Lucinda Williams, Jeff Tweedy), Izaak Opatz is an ungulate in life’s winter pasture, chewing on and metabolizing disappointment, heartbreak, and the other tough stuff into enjoyable musical carbohydrates. A compulsive metaphorager (and inveterate wordplayboy), Opatz breaks it all down with enzymes of wry humor, thoughtful simile and close observation - a therapeutic process of narrativizing his own life that, almost as a byproduct, turns out savory nuggets of literate, confessional pop.
Where 2018’s Mariachi Static drew from Opatz’s fragmented love life as a seasonal Park Service employee and resonated especially with the sensitive dirtbag set, Extra Medium, his latest release, splits time between romantic Hindenburgs across his native Montana, up the East Coast, and in faraway Los Angeles. Montana and LA especially decorate the album, supplying wells of metaphor and scene-making, and as characters in their own right - LA’s alternately charming (“In the Light of a Love Affair”) and discomfiting (“East of Barstow”), and, in “Big Sandy”, Montana evolves from setting to subject as the girl’s feelings he traverses it to see prove less than his own feelings for the state.
In LA, Opatz learned from and worked alongside Jonny Fritz at Dad Country Leather, and met bandmates and Extra Medium collaborators Malachi DeLorenzo (drums, producer, engineer) and Dylan Rodrigue (multi-instrumentalist, producer). He now lives in Missoula, Montana, where he runs his own custom leather shop, is writing the next album, and pursuing a master's degree in journalism at the U of M.