Monthly Archives: December 2019

Chris Isaak: Baja Sessions (CD Review)

Michael McCarty

Chris Isaak: Baja Sessions
Reprise, 1996
Rating: ****

Chris Isaak has always been hard to classify. He looks like Elvis Presley, plays the guitar like George Harrison, sings like Roy Orbison – and occasionally yodels. On his sixth recording, Baja Sessions, he takes his sound South of the Border. Appropriately titled, this disc was recorded in Baja, California, described in the liner notes as having “more cactus than people, more time than worries and surrounded by the ocean and the sea. It’s a great place to slow down and play your guitar and the perfect setting for romance.”
The romantic setting must have been very influential because this is Issak’s most romantic recording to date. Stripped down to the bare essentials, these tracks focus on the singer’s up-close-and-personal vocals. Baja also must have put the singer in a nostalgic mood because he redid some of his earlier work in a more acoustic style, including “Wrong to Love You,” “Two Hearts,” and “Dancin’.”
He also got the chance to pay tribute to his idol Orbison by doing “Only the Lonely” (which is just as good as the remake by Orbison and k.d. lang).
Other outstanding songs include “Pretty Girls Don’t Cry,” “South of the Border (Down Mexico Way),” “Return to Me,” “Think of Tomorrow,” and “Sweet Lailani,” which shows off Isaak’s yodeling.
Baja Session will put you in a romantic mood, even if you’ve never been to California, western Texas or Mexico.

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