Picks and Pans Review: Robbie Nevil

updated 04/13/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 04/13/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Robbie Nevil

At 24, Nevil has the kind of fluid tunefulness that is usually found in singers who have either developed under the tutelage of a demanding choirmaster or been in the music business a long time. He can squeeze a Russian novel's worth of emotion out of the beat-heavy repetitiveness inherent in dance-club fare. Maybe that's an ability the former session guitarist has gleaned from studying the likes of Al Jarreau, El DeBarge and the Pointer Sisters, for whom he has written material. The LP he's co-written for himself is full of dance tracks as well, and as dance tracks go C'est la Vie and Just a Little Closer are first-class. Nevil's one of the few recording artists to come along since the Eurythmics to use studio technology to enhance rather than camouflage his voice, which curls in around the few fragments of melodies here like a lithe gymnast on parallel bars. His playing on the ballad Back to You indicates that he is also a guitarist of considerable skill. Too bad that's the only cut that momentarily counterbalances slick studio production with articulate, straightforward playing. The track at least shows that Nevil can, if he chooses, transcend the inevitable limitations of '80s-style disco. (Manhattan)

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