Album: Chris Isaak, Mr Lucky (Warner Brothers)

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The Independent Culture

Chris Isaak retains the engaging warmth of a post-modern country crooner on this first album in seven years, his expertly-modulated gradations of emotion peaking in an occasional falsetto yodel that marks him as the closest modern heir to Roy Orbison.

Isaak's Orbisonic qualities are emphasised here in tragic material like "We Let Her Down" and "You Don't Cry Like I Do" – the latter self-pityingly noting that "You don't want me/You don't love me/That's what kills me", while the former grasps death to its bosom through references to "her eyes, closed to the hurt and the pain". Likewise, the heartbreak of holiday romance in "Summer Holiday" is operatically over-egged by an impassioned presentation involving castanets – though it's still more effective than the overblown ballad duet "Breaking Apart". There are attempts to lighten things up through the jauntiness of "Take My Heart" and the corny two-step of "We've Got Tomorrow", but they're never as persuasive as gloomier material such as "We Lost Our Way" and "Cheater's Town", in which the effect of romantic betrayal is laid out against a backdrop of Lanois-esque background guitar noise, the bricolage of a broken heart.

Download this: "Cheater's Town", "We Let Her Down", "We Lost Our Way", "You Don't Cry Like I Do"