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Chris Isaak

Mr. Lucky – 2009 (Warner)

Reviewed by Greg Yost

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CDs by Chris Isaak

After a seven-year hiatus from the studio (not counting a 2004 Christmas album), retro rock crooner Chris Isaak is back with a new album that sports a decidedly more contemporary sound. Isaak's voice still summons the ghosts of classic singers from the early days of rock and roll, but the musical landscape laid out on this 14-track set reflects modern pop and rock influences. The combination allows Isaak to maintain the essence of his throwback style while also creating songs that are more relevant to the contemporary mainstream audience.

A good example of this "modernized" sound is the lead track Cheater's Town. While it still features the basic song structure and trademark falsetto vocals of Isaak's previous studio efforts, the track also includes some contemporary touches like a spaced out electric guitar section and some tremolo-soaked running guitar passages that lend a very modern feel to the song.

Two of the most notable songs are duets. Isaak teams with Trisha Yearwood for an updated take on Breaking Apart. The song, co-written by Isaak and Diane Warren for his 1998 album "Speak of the Devil," really benefits from Yearwood's distinctive voice and her ability to match Isaak's own vocal prowess.

Michelle Branch, the pop songwriter that made her mark on country music as part of The Wreckers, lends her voice to the I Lose My Heart. While Branch doesn't possess the same power as Yearwood, her vocal contribution adds an extra dimension to the song, allowing it to stand out from the crowd.

Although the songs on "Mr. Lucky" wouldn't fit as comfortably on a 1950s malt shop jukebox as the tracks on Isaak's previous studio efforts, his decision to update his sound a bit just might pay off with contemporary listeners.