Chris Isaak

With Sophie B. Hawkins. Saturday, July 24, at Scene Pavilion.

Mary Bridget Davies Group. Smedley's, 17004 Lorain Avenue Saturday, July 17; 216-941-0124
Don't hate him because he's beautiful. Most know Chris Isaak as the lucky schmuck who got to roll around the surf with that hot model in the "Wicked Game" video. But it's just that ability to be chiseled-handsome and knowingly schmucky that has made Isaak the perfect post-emo crooner. There are no martinis to blame, à la Dino -- no expertly suave Sinatra air. Certainly he's no musical revolutionary like his model, Elvis. No, Isaak always has a grin ready as well as a quick, self-deprecating quip that shows he knows he's just a Joe who got dealt a good hand -- looks and a smooth voice.

The fact that he's played it well proves that he's got more guile than he lets on. He has remained on major labels while selling few records, has somehow finagled Showtime into giving him a series (a pretty good one at that, since canceled), and has wisely stuck to a romantic crooning style with deft attempts at updated pop rockabilly, when he surely has been pushed to try any number of cheesy genre crossovers. His only major misstep so far was last year's Always Got Tonight, a limp outing that had an icky whiff of "new-country" slick instead of his usual summer-sunset vibe. His live show, though, never fails to be fun, dotting the faves with unexpected covers. And at this show, the sunset is guaranteed.

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