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Chris Isaak: Beyond the Sun

Isaak continues to mine the same field he always has, and for longtime fans, that's good news. Just don't look for anything new here.

Chris Isaak
Beyond the Sun
(Vanguard Records)
***

There are artists who continue to stretch themselves with each release; then there are others comfortably mining the same field, intent on finding subtle variations within that comfort zone.

California crooner and all-round charmer Chris Isaak is firmly among the latter. In fact, if you were to accuse him of being a one-trick pony, Isaak would take it as compliment. Since he burst on the scene 25 years ago, Isaak has built a niche musical career evoking some of rock'n'roll's biggest crooners. His voice sweetly quivers like Roy Orbison, it yelps like Jerry Lewis and Isaak's on-stage demeanour is straight from the King's handbook.

With Beyond the Sun, he puts away all pretences and indulges in an all-out covers album dedicated to the classic label Sun Records, once the home of the aforementioned artists. Recorded in the famous Sun Studios, Isaak delivers a smooth collection of covers respectfully paying homage rather than reconstructing these classic tunes. His take on Elvis Presley's Trying to Get You and I Forgot to Remember to Forget has all the twangy swagger of the original, while Live It Up, the only self-penned song of the collection, fits nicely, adding some energetic rockabilly to the proceedings.

The only downside is the obvious nature of some of the song choices. Surely, no matter how tastefully they're done, we don't need another rendition of I Walk the Line and Great Balls of Fire, do we?

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