Think of this as "Unplugged In Mexico." Or a self-indulgent detour into bad taste. However you look at it, Baja Sessions certainly isn't your typical Isaak release. There's no intensely dramatic numbers like "Wicked Game" or much that rocks along the lines of "Somebody's Crying" and "Go Walking Down There." Also gone for the most part are the somber "woe is me" themes of previous Isaak albums.
Instead, Baja Sessions strives to create an upbeat and mellow musical mood with a distinct Mexican flavor. For starters, Isaak reworks some of his favorite early recordings like "Wrong To Love You," "Dancin'" and "Pretty Girls Don't Cry" which adhere closely to the originals, albeit somewhat stripped down. All of these remakes are fine, but they suffer without the usual uptempo Isaak material surrounding them.
Where the leisure suit-like taste shows up is in Isaak's choice of covers. "Sweet Leilani," "South of the Border," and "Yellow Bird" are about as cheesey as popular music gets. If you have the audacity to record music in the '90s that was popularized previously by the likes of Gene Autry and Lawrence Welk, you had better do something drastic with the arrangements. Instead, Isaak remains faithful to the originals and appears to be making a bid for a lounge act in Vegas.
Which is a shame, since Isaak shows on the final number "Think Of Tomorrow" (one of only three new songs on this album) that he can still rock with the best of them when he wants to. "Think" also provides a much needed wakeup call after twelve mild numbers offering little variation. If your idea of a romantic evening is watching reruns of the Love Boat on TV, then this is the album you've been waiting for. Otherwise, skip this "side project" and stick to the rest of Isaak's first-rate catalog.