Picks and Pans Review: Watching You Watching Me
Withers, 47, has recorded such hit singles as Lean on Me, Ain't No Sunshine (both of which made the Top 10), Use Me and, with Grover Washington Jr., Just the Two of Us. It's hard to get very excited, though, about his first solo album since 1980. There's a bland quality to most of the tracks; the music is so mellow it fades out. Think of how Brook Benton might have sounded in his heyday if he had kept that languorous approach and lost the sexy growl from his voice. Withers tries some up-tempo material—Steppin' Right Along, for instance—but even that seems to be carried off halfheartedly. While the tune Whatever Happens offers an intense moment or two, too much of the album is distinctive primarily for its smoothness, like canned pudding. (Columbia)
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