CD Review of American Sunshine by Colin Hay
Colin Hay: American Sunshine
Recommended if you like
Men at Work, Randy Newman, Frances Dunnery
Compass Records
Colin Hay:
American Sunshine

Reviewed by Mike Farley


f you grew up in MTV’s boom days, with the likes of bands like Men at Work, A Flock of Seagulls or Haircut 100 dominating the airwaves, you’ll no doubt recognize the voice of Colin Hay, who was the lead singer and chief songwriter of Australia’s Men at Work. As a solo artist, Hay has never come close to the huge success his band enjoyed with hits like "Down Under" and "Overkill," but with placements on the "Garden State" soundtrack and on the hit TV show "Scrubs," he has enjoyed a resurgence of sorts in the last few years. Now he’s back with his latest studio album on Nashville independent label Compass Records, American Sunshine.

Colin Hay

American Sunshine is an appropriate title, because the songs just ooze a vibe that reflects Hay’s two-decade California residence, making you feel like you’re standing on Sunset Boulevard under palm trees and brilliant blue skies. Of course, starting off with a title like "Oh California" helps get that feeling across. The arrangements (Hay recorded nine of these tracks in Nashville) are nicely sparse, letting Hay’s voice, a bit scratchier from years of use, come to the forefront, especially on the pretty "There’s Water Over You." And even though he’s clearly mellowed, it’s not like we should paint a picture of a guy reaching for prune juice; Hay can still rock out, as he does on "No Time" and "The End of Wilhelmina," the latter of which most closely resembles the "Down Under" days, at least melodically. Hay also takes a song by Nashville hit songwriter Hillary Lindsey, "I Can’t Get Up Out of This Bed," and interprets it nicely. Finally there’s the title track, a super-pretty instrumental that ties things up.

Try as anyone might, aging brings with it a certain softening, and the songs on this record are proof that while Hay is still a very good songwriter, his songs are by and large a far cry from the fun factor of Men at Work. Actually, Colin Hay the solo artist is far removed from his former band, but that’s probably the reason he’s still making music and constantly touring to his fan base. And if he keeps making nice albums like American Sunshine, it’s unlikely that Hay will retire from making music anytime soon.

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