Hawke Lover/Fighter

As doctors make poor patients, and the lawyer who self-defends has an idiot for a client, it might be time for Hawksley Workman to step away from the mixing board, at least when working on his own albums. While the prodigiously talented Workman has assisted on career-best albums by Sarah Slean, John Southworth and Tegan and Sara, he’s coated his third solo album with a high-sheen glaze that detracts from the appealing quirks of his songwriting. But even a hatchet job (which this isn’t, by far) couldn’t entirely demolish Hawksley’s vision. He plays nearly every instrument, and challenges himself to delve deeper into his muse (his mythical lover Isadora) and the conflicting impulses of our better natures, cleaving the album with themes of duality throughout. The division of his own ambitions still straddles a line between the radio-friendly rock Jeff Buckley never realised, and the operatic cabaret of Rufus Wainwright. The two-faced contemplation of its title, Lover/Fighter, is explored in morality plays like "Anger As Beauty” and "The Future Language of Slaves,” but there isn’t an attendant balance on its production, because the album never wavers from its slick, U2-ish gloss. Familiarity with the album allows the sugar-shock sweetness of its sounds to fall away, but this third album is the most difficult by far for long-time fans to access. When they do, they’ll discover the Hawksley that first charmed us with his brilliant debut, For Him and the Girls, just dressed up in nattier outfits, not the tattered emotional rags that draped him before. (Isadora)