Transcendental Highway

Colin Hay

Lazy Eye Records, 1998

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Remember Colin Hay? If you were a fan of '80s pop kings Men At Work, then you will remember Hay as the distinctive voice behind such hits as "Down Under" and "Overkill". But what you might not remember is that Hay has had a pretty solid solo career since the late '80s, scoring some minor hits in the United States. Although he's had more success outside of America in recent years, he appears ready to re-claim some stake in pop music royalty.

His latest disc, Transcendental Highway, shows that Hay has not lost any of his pop sensibility over the years, and remains a powerful songwriter in his own right. While this disc occasionally drifts into areas that aren't his forte, Hay seems ready to give some acts a run for their money.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The one thing that strikes me as being out of sorts on this album is the use of drum programming. Chad Fischer is a very competent drummer, and proves so on several occasions in the course of Transcendental Highway - so why Hay and Dave Dale would resort to synthesized drums on occasion is beyond me. (I've always said that acoustic drums sound the best.)

And Hay does make an effort to break into new territory with his style of pop music. While I can't say that I like the spoken-word approach on the title track, the scaled-back cuts featuring only Hay and his acoustic guitar ("Death Row Conversation", "I Just Don't Think I'll Ever Get Over You") are incredibly powerful. Granted, numbers like these won't win him radio play, but they should earn him high praise from true fans of music.

Through a good portion of Transcendental Highway, Hay shows why his songwriting is one of his strongest suites - followed closely by the execution of the songs. Tracks like "My Brilliant Feat", "I'll Leave The Light On" and "I'm Doing Fine" (the latter of the group a story of a man talking to an ex he's still in contact with) ring out in Hay's own unique voice, without relying on the style he set up with Men At Work. Granted, I would have picked a track like "Goodbye My Red Rose" over "Don't Believe You Anymore" as the first single - but I'm not the one making the calls here.

The only negative of this whole album is that it takes a few songs for things to really start rolling. Once you hit "My Brilliant Feat," the picture then begins to develop. (Also worthy of note is "Cactus" - though I could have sworn that this was an instrumental track.)

It woud be nice to see people - radio or consumers - take a chance on Transcendental Highway and give Hay the chance to succeed or fail on his own. While it's not quite as strong as some of the music he's known for with his older group, it's still a very pleasant album that's worth your attention.

Rating: B-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 1998 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Lazy Eye Records, and is used for informational purposes only.