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RECORD RACK

Isaak: Shades Of Dark

March 01, 1987|STEVE HOCHMAN

"CHRIS ISAAK." Chris Isaak. Warner Bros. Out of Stockton came Isaak in 1985 with "Silvertone," a mesmerizingly haunting album filled with moody, solipsistic songs of drivin' and dancin' and cryin' in eternal solitude sung in an Orbison-esque tenor that seemed to be fleeing the demons of James Calvin Wilsey's spaghetti-Western guitar licks.

Isaak's second album isn't the emotional black hole of the debut, which means that falling into it is neither as harrowing nor inescapable a prospect. But by offering more than just one shade of dark, Isaak has improved on an already impressive formula. "You owe me," he begs/pleads/threatens on the album's opener, and the focused rage sears the soul in a way the vaguer yearnings of the first album never could.

The musical landscape is more varied, too, with the likes of the violin-spiced "Fade Away" breaking from the still-strong influences. And lurking around every corner is Wilsey's ghostly guitar, joined now by Kenney Dale Johnson's bump-in-the-night drums. Only a remake of the Yardbirds' "Heart Full of Soul" falls flat, only because it never quite reaches the original's peak.

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