Picks and Pans Review: Skin Dive

UPDATED 07/29/1985 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 07/29/1985 at 01:00 AM EDT

Michael Franks

As sly, funny, romantically cynical and melodious as ever, Franks has turned out his most satisfying album. This is the second Franks LP that Rob Mounsey has produced, and Mounsey's synthesizer-heavy, bright approach (he does a lot of commercial jingles) seems to have given Franks a lift. There are still plenty of the quiet, soft Latin jazz moments Franks is fond of; his duet with Brenda Russell on When I Give My Love to You is one of the LP's highlights. But there's a new touch of fire to him on such tracks as Read My Lips or Queen of the Underground, which also includes some vintage Franks lyrics: "Went to your concert but the show was sold-out/So I bought a program with a color foldout/And your padded shoulders really looked fantastic/It all seemed to say you were so iconoclastic." Saxophonists David Sanborn and Michael Brecker and guitarist Steve Khan add decorative touches consistent with Mounsey's fusionist approach. Franks is still at work—as he has been for years—on his chef d'oeuvre, a musical based on the life of artist Paul Gauguin. In the meantime he has found the touch to make his basic style more dynamic without losing the subtlety that makes him a unique performer. (Warner Bros.)

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