June 12, 1995 12:00 PM

Chris Isaak

The heartache of a spurned lover has inspired many a songwriter. But Isaak’s own wellspring of romantic woe has been running over lately, as the talented retro-rocker makes abundantly clear on these painfully tender odes for the lovelorn. The 38-year-old San Francisco resident goes so far as to include in the disc packaging a copy of a letter he wrote, but never mailed, to an unnamed ex-girlfriend, whom he dated for three years. The rockabilly crooner’s dreamy love songs and matinee idol looks have gotten him plenty of press. Yet the torment and lonely quaver in his voice sound deeply felt. With guitar reverb trembling and brushes sometimes shuffling on drums, Isaak completes his sensuous landscape of regret and longing.

You can picture Isaak composing these songs while looking out a rain-drenched window with the Bay Area fog rolling in. There’s his aching falsetto on “Somebody’s Crying” and the acoustic lament of “Don’t Leave Me on My Own.” The slinky, Orbison-inspired rocker “Goin’ Nowhere” sounds almost too self-assured for such an emotional collection, which poignantly captures the sound of a heart breaking in two. (Reprise)

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