Colin Hay | American Sunshine (Compass/Lazy Eye)

cd_colin-hay.gifYou may be as surprised as I was at this transplanted Aussie’s California sunshine-inspired tracks.







Ever wonder what happened to that singer from Men at Work? You know, the sweet-voiced guy with the lazy eye who wrote and sang all of those catchy tunes like "Who Can It Be Now," "Down Under" and "Overkill"? Turns out the ’80s Grammy winning chart-topper is alive and well and, in fact, has just released a sublime collection of new songs entitled American Sunshine.

Truth be told, this is actually Colin Hay‘s tenth solo long-player. And for those paying attention to the pop culture hip-o-meter, you may also remember Mr. Hay’s cameos on Scrubs and his contribution to the hit soundtrack for fan Zach Braff’s Garden State flick. If you’re not paying attention, however, you will be as surprised as I was at this transplanted Aussie’s California sunshine-inspired tracks.

The set begins with a love letter to his home of the last few years, entitled, appropriately enough, "Oh California." Sparse arrangements and gentle melodies provide the backdrop for the ruminations on middle age, lost wishes, and the kind of contentment that can only come from soaking in blue skies and golden sun. In "Prison Time," he displays his penchant for the poetic and the bittersweet in detailing his musings on a former lover, and the shadows that the past can sometimes cast on the present.

From the roadhouse blues of "Broken Love" and the driving "The End of Wilihemina," to the country folk "I Can’t Get Up Out of This Bed" and the smartly executed instrumental title track, the album never settles into a self-satisfied listlessness. Hay’s production is polished without suffocating the fine work by his band. The high point of the disc is "Pleased to Almost Meet," with its big drum intro and live jam feel framing witty lyrical insights on the kind of fame that comes to a young man early in his career, and all of the corresponding perceptions that entails. Sound familiar? Sounds like someone’s smiling as he enjoys his vegemite sandwich.

Listening to American Sunshine is like getting reacquainted with a friend you haven’t seen since high school. You’re glad he’s doing well, and happy to know that he’s still got a song to sing and a story to share. | Jim Ousley

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