Colin Hay solo: perhaps too subdued for own good

COLIN HAY
GATHERING MERCURY
Compass Records (Compass 4551)
★★★

By Gillian G. Gaar

The latest album by the former Men At Work frontman finds him in a somber mood, with a number of the songs reflecting the recent death of his father. This is most evident in tracks like “Dear Father” and “Half A Million Angels,” while a clear sense of mortality also hangs over “A Simple Song” and the title track.

So you’re not in for a bunch of light pop songs. But the album is perhaps too subdued for its own good. Hay’s distinctive voice pulls you in, but it’s a bit too laid back to really grab you. Part of the problem may be in the arrangements. The album’s bonus tracks are “stripped down” versions of four songs without the extra overdubbed instrumentation, and they pack more of an emotional punch — more heartfelt and less easy listening.

But for the bulk of the songs, as sincere as they are, they fail to really connect with the listener. Thus the impact of Hay’s work is nullified; the songs pass by pleasantly enough, but never really engage you.

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