Years ago a colleague said "Auberge" was Chris Rea's best album, and on the strength of that recommendation I bought it. He was right about that, though I'd add that if it's Chris Rea's best album, then that makes it the world's best album.... such is my regard for this artist's work.
It's one of a handful of albums I know where nothing's out of place. Each number is strong, and they fit together well. I don't want to fast-forward anywhere. He shows incredible versatility - from the incandescent, yearning, bluesy "Set me free" to the enigmatic "Looking for the Summer" to the A-list torch song "The Mention of Your Name". There's a simplicity about these songs that speaks directly to the heart, while engaging the mind too. The arrangements are simple and powerful, the sound quality excellent.
Whenever I set off to drive a long journey, I pop in "Auberge" - it couldn't be better. By the time I hit the motorway, "Heaven" is playing - ah, the romance of the open road!
That's what I love about Chris Rea of the late 80s/early 90s - that sense of being focussed on what's beyond the next hill, while also understanding that wanderlust has a pathology all of it's own; the tension between the two is played for all it's worth.
Oh, and the slide guitar is pretty damned hot!