Picks and Pans Review: Letters Home

updated 06/15/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 06/15/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Wendy Waldman

If ever there were such a thing as a Los Angeles rock version of a tone poem, this collection of 10 tunes is it. The melodies, the arrangements, the alternately defiant and wistful tone of the lyrics all contribute to an unusually cohesive pop album. Waldman, 36, has written such pop hits as last year's Don Johnson vehicle, Heartbeat, and the Kim Carnes smash Break the Rules Tonight. Waldman has also recorded six solo albums, the most recent in 1982. While she has accumulated some extravagant reviews as a performer, however, she has never approached anything resembling stardom, which may account for the estrangement many of her songs reflect. Even the titles suggest disillusionment: The Renegade Side, Destined To Be Wild, Living in Hard Times. In The Crossroads, she sings, "I gave up all those sweet promises/ And the only thing I know is that/ Out there in the darkness/ Nothing's ever like they say." Waldman's writing usually compensates for the fact that she is not a very distinctive singer. She is much more than competent, but it would not be that easy to pick her voice out of a crowd. That does make it easier to concentrate on her lyrics. On the other hand it's hard not to long occasionally for the nuances that a Linda Ronstadt or Jennifer Warnes could bring to some of these songs. (Cypress)

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