With his singular retro-rock vision, Chris Isaak had already graduated from cult figure to music-video heartthrob when he delivered this 1995 album. But if all the surface elements are intact, he has assimilated his chief vocal influences, Orbison and Elvis, even further, and Isaak's songs dig even deeper into his favourite subject, heartbreak, to shorten the distance between writer and singer. "Baby Did a Bad, Bad Thing", the set's opener, employs the same growling rock-speak as George Thorogood's notorious "Bad to the Bone", but without a trace of irony--Isaak lashes the listener with the torment of a betrayed lover, telegraphing fear, desire, and anguish as he wheels from rumbling accusations to keening falsetto cries. Elsewhere, he withdraws to the more lyrical croon of his previous work, his band wreathed with the throbbing tremolo and ghostly reverb that are their natural elements. There's a folk-rock jangle to the lovely, forlorn "Somebody's Crying", a disarming directness to the simple but aching title song, and another burst of fevered agony, "Go Walking Down There", which gallops over a perfect mid-'60s guitar arrangement. For all its letter-perfect allusiveness, though, Forever Blue
feels authentically heartbroken, not just cleverly crafted. --Sam Sutherland
features "baby did a bad bad thing"