Picks and Pans Review: Coming Around Again

updated 04/27/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 04/27/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Carly Simon

If, as has often seemed the case, Simon writes and sings songs tailored to fit her personal life, maybe someone should send this woman some flowers or do something else nice for her. A line from one of the tunes on this strangely entertaining album (an ideal gift for your favorite jilting victim) seems to sum up its overall pessimistic tone: "You have to hurt, to understand/ You have to get by the best you can/ Until you hurt, until you cry/ You won't know about love." Even the relatively romantic title song, the picture-perfect movie theme Simon wrote for Heartburn, includes the lines, "So don't mind if I fall apart/ There's more room in a broken heart." Hold What You've Got, a revival of the old Joe Tex tune, and The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of, which touts the virtues of "the same old guy you've known for years," suggest a don't-get-carried-away cooling of the blood. This is hardly the heated Anticipation of Simon's past. Through all this angst, Simon sounds in especially good voice, with one exception. That's an ostensibly jazzy version of As Time Goes By, the Herman Hupfeld tune from Casablanca. Its cynicism fits the mood well enough, but Simon, in one of her scatting moods, wanders all over the place, while Rob Mounsey's oddly tuned, barrelhouse piano clanks in the background. The tune also has an arrangement that manages to evoke the title song. Coming Around Again is also merged into The Itsy Bitsy Spider, another track done for Heartburn. The palpable charm of that children's song, performed by Carly and her children, Sally and Ben Taylor, and her ex-niece and nephew-in-law Alexandra and Isaac Taylor, is largely dissipated when it suddenly turns into a grown-up romance tune. Simon remains, even after all this emotional turmoil, perhaps the most interesting of women pop singers. This album, her first released on a new label after the artistically triumphant but commercially mediocre Hello Big Man and Spoiled Girls, proves she is still captivating, even when she's not exactly cheery. (Arista)

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