September 02, 2002 12:00 PM

Duncan Sheik (Atlantic)

Album of the week

Since his 1996 breakthrough hit, “Barely Breathing,” Duncan Sheik’s pop career has been in desperate need of resuscitation. “On a High,” the first single off the singer-songwriter’s fourth album, should do the trick. It’s a radio-ready, drive-with-the-top-down ditty with a buoyant beat to match its ebullient lyric (“I’m on a high, on a high/ There’s nothing more to it/ You’re the sea and the sky/ And the blue that runs through it”). The rest of Daylight isn’t quite as bright as “On a High,” but the disc still shines brilliantly throughout. Sheik, whose last CD, Phantom Moon, was a conceptual collaboration with poet-playwright Steven Sater, has returned to making more straight-ahead pop-rock that is, at the same time, uncompromisingly literate and lyrical Think of him as John Mayer’s older, wiser brother. Sheik remains at his intellectual best on meditative moments such as “On Her Mind,” cowritten with Foreigner’s Mick Jones, and “For You,” an acoustic-guitar ballad with a quiet beauty that speaks volumes.

Bottom Line: One of the year’s best

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