Audio Mixer: Chad Fischer.
Recording information: The Washroom, Topanga, CA.
Photographer: Beth Herzhaft.
A lighter and livelier affair than 2011's handsomely burnished Gathering Mercury, Next Year People nevertheless trades up on that same sense of assured craft that Colin Hay has cultivated in his middle age. Certainly, the back half of this 2015 album gets a little sun-bleached and mellow -- an appealing fit for the genial Hay -- but it's the songs that exist on the margin that give this record its character. "Trying to Get to You" opens the proceedings at a nicely infectious clip, "To There from Here" has a nice bit of lilting surf rock in its accents, "Lived in Vein" is as breezy as a stolen Wednesday afternoon at the beach, and, throughout it all, Hay's palpable ever-present smile gives this a warm, welcoming feel; it's nothing more than a friendly letter from an old pal, and that's plenty charming. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine