We’ve had a couple of Chris Isaak albums in the last few years, but we struggled to find much to say about them. Well composed and sung tunes, often with intelligent lyrics, but all a bit, well, worthy. Often a euphemism for dull. Still best known for Wicked Game, a career-defining tune. He’s popular in the States, but they have lower standards than us.
This new album is completely different, however. He’s gone to Nashville and, if not making a country album, it’s an album that’s heavily influenced by a country style of composing, though lyrically he’s avoided songs about beer, and women who’ve done got up and gone.
Openers First Comes The Night and Please Don’t Call are good pop tunes, the latter in particular having a strong chorus. They’re immediately likable and interesting, somewhere between Mark Knopfler and the Traveling Wilburys. Isaak’s voice is often compared to that of Roy Orbison and that is particularly noticeable on track three, Perfect Lover.
Down In Flames is a more rockabilly tune (with hints of The Jordanaires) and the only one with lyrics on the sleeve notes: “Kennedy got in a Lincoln/Caesar got it in the back/ Somebody told me Hank Williams died in his Cadillac”, it’s a witty and entertaining tune (another lyric is “Elvis died or did he?”) and shows why Isaak is renowned for his humour.
Reverie that follows is very Isaak, with some of the sound of Wicked Game. There are 17 tracks on here, including bonus ones, so we’re not going to list them all, but it’s an entertaining album that seems more than a cut above much of his more recent work.