Picks and Pans Review: Dreaming

updated 07/06/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/06/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Amanda McBroom

A thoughtful pop composer and a throaty, emotional singer, McBroom, 35, has developed a substantial following as a cabaret and concert singer in New York and Los Angeles. This, her first solo album, was clearly designed to exploit that following, but someone forgot that McBroom's reputation is to a considerable extent based on her purported wit and perspective. The 10 songs on this LP are so heavy-handed as to make King Lear seem like Father Knows Best. Some sample lines (all from different songs): "My heart's lying dead on the floor"; "I am death, the destroyer of worlds"; "And the soul afraid of dying/ That never learns to live"; and the relatively lighthearted "Sharks in the water/ Fire in the sky." Now obviously nobody wants to hear Happy Days Are Here Again or Whistle While You Work or even Celebration all the time. Too much musical brooding, though, seems morbid without dramatic context. The line about the frightened soul comes from The Rose, the theme McBroom wrote for the Bette Midler movie of the same title. Her only real hit, it's an often affecting tune, as are a number of others on the album. Quiet Man, for instance, is an articulate love song. The overall tone is so unrelievedly grim and McBroom's singing so humorless and overwrought (at times she sounds like Crystal Gayle at a particularly overdone moment) that listening to the whole record could cast a pall on your day. McBroom and her producers, Peter Bunetta and Rick Chudacoff, who have worked with such performers as Smokey Robinson and Patti LaBelle, could have made much more of this opportunity. (Gecko, 11777 San Vicente Blvd., Suite 600, Los Angeles, Calif. 90049)

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