February 28, 2009

Chris Isaak remains my Mister Lucky


San Francisco’s surf-troubadour Chris Isaak rolled back into my life last week with Mr. Lucky, his first new studio album since 2002′s Always Got Tonight and 1998′s Speak Of The Devil, both well-loved albums that I’ve listened to hundreds of times over the years and still delight me.

Isaak is a stylistic anomaly, consistently making good tunes that defy the times. There’s a bit of the California Blue of Roy Orbison, the golden slide guitar and twang of shiny old country, and the marvelous malleability of his unmatched lonesome warble. Over the years, Isaak has traversed surf music territory, Spanish adobes in the hot sun, wrenching little acoustic blues ballads, and good ole rock and roll. I’ve seen him in small sweaty San Francisco clubs and it’s the closest I’ve ever felt to Beatlemania, Elvis faintings, and that flutter of girlish embarrassment. He always evokes the winter waves crashing under the Golden Gate for me.

I adore Chris Isaak, this I will readily admit. I once had a real good friendship that first sparked over a shared love of Isaak. I think it’s rare to find two kids these days (by kids I mean twenty-somethings) who appreciate the bright talent of Chris Isaak, so those days remain an unparalleled treat. Listening to his new album this weekend, especially the bittersweet harmonies of his duet with Trisha Yearwood on “Breaking Apart” (an older song), makes me a bit melancholy for the things we’ve lost. His music is always, always good for that – - Forever Blue remains one of the greatest albums about the end of a relationship that I own. After all these years, I’m still interested in what he’s doing next.

I’ve been streaming the whole album this week through his MySpace, feeling out the sway and the break that somehow always feels immediately familiar. “You Don’t Cry Like I Do,” is an immediate (sad, sad) favorite, while “We Lost Our Way” makes me want to hit the California highway, ocean teal out the windowside. His songs remind me of places that once were home.

This tune from Mr. Lucky has been a favorite of mine, finally receiving the proper album treatment. Originally buried as an Australian b-side, it always makes me smile from start to finish. Something so simple, so immediate, so…seventeen about those lyrics.

Best I Ever Had – Chris Isaak

San Franciscans!! Go see Isaak Monday night at Amoeba, 6pm.
Do give him a kiss for me.

[photo credit Wolf Trap]

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  • I, too, adore Chris Isaak.I’ve seen him once and it was a great show…he wore is disco ball suit and walked around the audience–even visiting those of us in the nosebleed.

    Frog — March 1, 2009 @ 5:49 am

  • Haha, you’re a kid anyway

    Djimi — March 1, 2009 @ 6:45 am

  • Chris Isaak is a one-trick pony. Always has been and always will be. For over 20 years he has written THE EXACT SAME SONG that consist of wanting to get laid, getting laid and then having his heart broken about being laid. Gets a little old and tedious album, after album.

    Love his voice hate the gimmick. 7 year absence and still he cannot find any new ground to break.

    But if there is any karma in this world maybe he’ll be sued for ripping off Elvis Costello. Have You seen the “Chris Isaak Hour”? Terrible.

    I HATE Chris Isaak — March 1, 2009 @ 6:44 pm

  • Isaak is fabulous and this album is superb. There is such variety in his songs and topics covered. Yes, he does love and love lost, but Big Wide Wonderful World is pure celebration of life and opportunity. This guy is great on DVD and even better live. Go see him, you will fall in love with him & his band. He genuinely loves music and that is the purpose of his new show. The interviewees may not be your choice but I bet we will all learn stuff about all of them that is facsinating.

    Cath — March 2, 2009 @ 1:45 am

  • OMG. I Love love LOVE this album. I’ve been a fan of his since high school and simply cannot get enough. Every time I listen to him, I feel like I am transformed back into the rockabilly days. He is absolutely fabulous…a one of a kinda artist. (oh and I’m a 20-something too!)

    Lindsay — March 2, 2009 @ 2:52 pm

  • Honestly – how can you not love Chris Isaak? His schtick is true whereas Costello, much though I love him and grew up with his petulance and frustration as a soundtrack, has wandered, lost off the path, many times.Isaak remains a troubadour of style,wit and unshowy substance. ‘Forever Blue’ is a quiet masterpiece of regret and loss.

    Russell — March 3, 2009 @ 9:27 am

  • He is hilarious in concert, a true entertainer and I have never grown tired of his music!

    Steve — March 3, 2009 @ 2:37 pm

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Bio Pic Name: Heather Browne
Location: Colorado, originally by way of California
Giving context to the torrent since 2005.

"I love the relationship that anyone has with music: because there's something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. It's the best part of us, probably, the richest and strangest part..."
—Nick Hornby, Songbook
"Music has always been a matter of energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel."
—Hunter S. Thompson

Mp3s are for sampling purposes, kinda like when they give you the cheese cube at Costco, knowing that you'll often go home with having bought the whole 7 lb. spiced Brie log. They are left up for a limited time. If you LIKE the music, go and support these artists, buy their schwag, go to their concerts, purchase their CDs/records and tell all your friends. Rock on.

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