Picks and Pans Review: Whitney Houston

updated 04/08/1985 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 04/08/1985 AT 01:00 AM EST

Whitney Houston

Houston, 21, has a sweet, sure, rangy voice that she combines with an emotional sensitivity rare for someone her age—or anyone else's. She has breeding. (She's the daughter of gospel-blues singer Cissy Houston and first cousin of Dionne Warwick.) She is toe-curlingly beautiful. As a performer she is remarkably poised—a born actress. In other words, it will take an act of Congress to keep this woman from becoming a megastar. This first album is meticulously produced by such people as Jermaine Jackson, Kashif, Michael Masser and Narada Michael Walden. Some material is on the bland side, but like the best singers, Houston can make even mediocre tunes worth listening to. The LP also includes splendid duets with Teddy Pendergrass (Hold Me) and Jermaine (Nobody Loves Me Like You Do). (Hold Me made the charts last year off a Pendergrass album.) Houston shows a dynamic versatility—from lightly funky, up-tempo tunes to deliciously torchy ballads—that most new performers are reluctant to attempt. She appears willing to let her voice take its chances, unencumbered by studio flourishes. That's a tiny gamble, given the royal flush of talent she's holding. This is the most surefire big-time debut since Sheena Easton's first LP in 1981. (Arista)

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