- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 15, 2015

Colin Hay

“Next Year People”

Compass Records

He’s still a man at work, as the pride of Australia aims to prove in this new album for Compass Records. In “Next Year People,” Colin Hay unveils more poppy tunes and technical virtuosity that again shows he’s far more than that guy from “Down Under.”

“If I Had Been a Better Man” is an introspective rumination on roads not taken, while “Did You Just Take the Long Way Home” vacillates between a lover gone and the romanticism — the endless possibilities — of the open road. A transcendent track is the album’s title song, “Next Year People,” in which Mr. Hay, with only an acoustic guitar and backed by a melancholy accordion in a minor key, spins yarns of troubled troubadours desperately in search of purpose in an existential yet hopeful parabale. It’s definitely the album’s highlight as well as one of the best tunes Mr. Hay has ever penned. Listen to it twice for best effect to discover nuance of both chord progressions and lyrical virtuosity. “To There From Here” falls into a similar vein of asking burning questions about a relationship. “Mr. Grogan” is a darkly lulling character study on yet another lost soul. The album closer, “Waiting in the Rain,” is a bit of a letdown, but the highs of the disc far, far outweigh any missteps.

Mr. Hay will be performing in the District Nov. 12 and 13 at The Bichmere in Alexandria. Tickets are $39.50 and be purchased at Birchmere.com/calendar.

• Eric Althoff can be reached at twt@washingtontimes.com.

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