Monday, November 23, 2015


Isaak does one thing, but he does it very well. Apart from his last album, Beyond the Sun, a tribute to Sun Records, he makes love-in-trouble songs centered around his Orbison/Elvis pipes. When he does branch out, it's not far, usually with rockabilly numbers with more lighthearted lyrics. Somehow over a 13-album career, he's managed to keep a spark despite the constant theme, mostly by always writing and singing them well.

There are several highlight songs here, including the title cut, a blue (as in bayou) break-up ballad, with a solid lyric ('First comes the heartache darling, it ain't always gonna hurt this way'). Dry Your Eyes is a Latin lover come-on, a little marimba and a little heavy breathing. Don't Break My Heart rocks it up a bit more, a desperate plea from a love-sick fool.

Isaak's still careful not to give us too much of a good thing over the whole album, and the novelty numbers deliver quality as well. The rockabilly tune Down In Flames is a cheery-sounding number about dying spectacularly, burning out before fading away: 'James Dean bought it on a highway, Marilyn found it in a pill/Elvis died, or did he? They're looking for him still.' Insects is weird, in a compelling way: 'Bad ideas are like insects on the windshield of my mine.' I always like forward to an Isaak album; I don't expect big changes, but it's never a let-down either.

1 comment:

  1. Spot on, Bob! I am never disappointed with a Chris Isaak record. Small note is that "Down In Flames" is a co-write with Maritimer, Gordie Sampson - part of that Nashville songwriting-by-committee group (that may be skilling country music). Sampson had a co-write with Guy Clark on the title track of Clark's last album.

    What does disappoint me with Isaak is that the "Chris Isaak Show" is gone and not yet available on disc.

    Keep up the good work, Bob!