The Deal: Singer-songwriter releases his first studio album in seven years.
The Good: Chris Isaak may be best known by many for his hits "Wicked Game" and "Somebody's Crying," but if you look deeper into his catalog, you'll find an old-school singer that combines elements of rock, rockabilly and honky-tonk into something that sounds like a marriage of Elvis and Roy Orbison. The album kicks off with the slow rumbler "Cheater's Town" that has moments showcasing Isaak's falsetto and guitar slinging. The theme of loves lost and found swirl through the album's 14 tracks. The honky-tonk rhythm of "We've Got Tomorrow" sounds like an Orbison outtake – until the N'awlins style horns that kick in halfway through. Isaak's voice pairs nicely with Trisha Yearwood on the slow and somber "Breaking Apart" and with Michelle Branch on the country-tinged "I Lose My Heart." For the most part, the album stays on the mellow side of the road, but Isaak finds time to kick it up on "Mr. Lonely Man" and "Best I Ever Had." You can also sense the emotion – and power – in his voice on "Summer Holiday." The beat and vocals of "Take My Heart" reminded me of Patsy Cline's "I'm Back in Baby's Arms."
The Bad: Isaak fell into a top-40 wasteland with "Wicked Game" and most people wrote him off as a one-hit wonder after that – except for the real fans. It's kind of like people thinking Jane's Addiction's only hit was "Been Caught Stealing." True fans know that there's much more to the artist beyond that one hit.
The Verdict: Is he just too much like Elvis or Orbison? The more I listen to his albums, and the more I hear glowing reviews of his live shows, I wonder why he isn't playing bigger venues or more of a household name.