As the star of his own Showtime TV show, Chris Isaak plays a sly raconteur with perfect comic timing, but on his eighth album, he shows that he is still intent on continuing in the role of melancholy balladeer. With his movie-star good looks, affable personality, and string of celebrity girlfriends, it's increasingly hard to see him in as the perpetual loser in love, despite the convincing likes of "Cool Love" (Love is a flame / I just got burned again") or the mournful "Nothing to Say" ("Nothing to say now / Nothing to do / I feel my heart breaking and it's all because of you"). The real mystery is why his doctor hasn't given him a prescription for Paxil. Isaak momentarily breaks out of his funk with the adventurous and witty "Notice the Ring," which pays cheeky homage to the Contours' "First I Look at the Purse," and the beat-heavy, Beck
-like "Always Got Tonight." But Isaak largely seems content to live in the past, strumming the same vintage guitar licks and singing the same sad, sad songs. --Jaan Uhelszki
Isaak's first album since his TV success, and first in four years, 'Always Got Tonight', marks a return to form for the singer-songwriter-guitarist with the smoldering retro-pop vibe who has previously earned four gold or platinum albums. Reprise Records.