The Fine Print

Mark Islam

  • AllMusic Rating
  • User Ratings (0)
  • Your Rating

The Fine Print Review

by Jason MacNeil

A larger supporting cast allows Mark Islam a more rounded sound on his sophomore album. Talking about unsatisfied starlets and unhappy Hollywood endings in songs like "Gold Enough" and "Natural Causes," the musician seems to excel as part of a larger contingent. Moving from radio-friendly country songs to traditional folk to traditional country in the gorgeous "That Restless Feeling," his style isn't easy to pigeonhole. JayDee Mannes' pedal steel guitar makes its mark on more than a few numbers, while harmony vocals from Rosemary Butler add some needed textures on "Drift Apart." Outcasts and outsiders play a prominent role in the lyrics, from the "fat chick" portrayed in "Invisible Girl." Islam tends to croon a bit too much during the waltz-like "We Might Fall in Love," forcing the issue by name-dropping Sinatra and Johnny Mathis. There are a couple of Celtic-tinged folk songs, particularly the sparse yet haunting "Treading Water." An edgier, jagged pop/rock song evolves from "Trick" but has a certain complacency to it. Lyrically the tracks never falter or waver, but the arrangements sometimes don't fit. "He's Got a Life" is such an example, a slower, mandolin-driven track that seems to stall from the onset.

blue highlight denotes track pick