Monday, November 23, 2015
MUSIC REVIEW OF THE DAY: CHRIS ISAAK - FIRST COMES THE NIGHT
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.