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Colin Hay brings unique sound, perspective to the Oaks Theater

October 25, 2017 GMT

There’s a song on Colin Hay’s new album, “Fierce Mercy,” that pays tribute to his late mother. But “She Was the Love of Mine” was more of an accidental homage.

“It’s not like I sat around thinking I should write a song about my mother,” says Hay, who appears Oct. 26 at the Oaks Theater in Oakmont. “But I was messing around one day and I had this idea that literally just popped out and I started singing, ‘she was the love of mine.’ I wrote down some things and I realized, in fact, it was about my mother without even really realizing it.”

Call it inspiration or the magical process of songwriting, but Hay seems to have a gift for crafting memorable songs. He came to prominence as the lead singer in Men at Work, the Australian band that combined a quirky sense of humor with catchy pop fare in songs such as “Who Can It Be Now?” and “Down Under.” MTV catapulted Men at Work into stardom in the early 1980s, but Hay has been a solo artist since 1985, and his passion for music has never waned.

“Fierce Mercy” showcases Hay’s strengths ­— “I think it’s the best record I’ve ever done,” he says — and features a variety of styles and tones. “Come Tumbin’ Down” is a rollicking travel song and “Frozen Fields of Snow” could be a winter classic. But the album’s best song just might be “A Thousand Million Reasons,” an achingly beautiful love song that is featured in a lovely video created and directed by Juan Padron, a Cuban animator.

“I don’t mind making videos,” Hay says. “But it’s my wife, Cecelia (Noel, a singer) who gets excited about them.”

He’s most interested in connecting with fans at shows, where he also is not shy about advocating for a cause that’s dear to him: the environment. He thinks it’s beyond debate that the planet has been damaged. What to do about it is another matter — it’s not too late, he insists, if proper measures are taken.

Rege Behe is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.