Picks and Pans Review: Two Eyes

updated 07/04/1983 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/04/1983 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Brenda Russell

Born in Brooklyn and raised there and in Toronto, Russell has recorded two previous solo albums but is better known as a songwriter than as a singer. Anne Murray, Roberta Flack, Joe Cocker and Earth, Wind & Fire are among the artists who have recorded her tunes. This LP includes too many routine, lackadaisical tracks, despite the collaboration of such talents as former Doobie Brother Michael McDonald. It does include, however, Russell's spirited tribute Jarreau, to Al, of course, on which she adds some Jarreau-like flourishes of her own. There is also a charming pop tune, See You Again, which includes some background harmonica noodling by Stevie Wonder. Most striking is an antiwar song in the form of a funky march, Look Down, Young Soldier. What could have been a crass, message-heavy bore—"Join the force to save the world/And put your war away"—is instead an infectious anthem. This track features a huge chorus of star soloists who manage to blend together. Among them are Jarreau, Rita Coolidge, Christopher Cross, James Ingram, Maureen McDonald, Patrice Rushen and Cinnamon Sharpe, not to mention Russell's 6-year-old daughter, Lindsay. Russell's voice has touches of Nancy Wilson and Toni Tennille in it, but there's plenty of her own affecting delicacy and gentleness of delivery. She makes you want to hear more.

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