Picks and Pans Review: Think with Your Heart

updated 07/10/1995 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/10/1995 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Debbie Gibson

Gibson's pleasant misfortune in the late '80s was to prosper as a musically talented teenager. Praise—and there was much of it—for her 1987 debut album, Out of the Blue, came with the risk faced by every teen success: that critics would turn against her as a grown-up. When her career indeed stalled in subsequent years with less successful albums, she wisely headed for the musical stage, playing Eponine on Broadway in Les Misérables (1991) and starring as Sandy in the London production of Grease! (1993).

Less wisely, Gibson, now 24, returned to the studio to record her fourth album. A voice this unremarkable needs inspired production and strong songs, but gets neither here. (Gibson composed 11 of the album's dozen tunes.) The exception is that proven winner, Carole King and Gerry Goffin's plaintive "Will You Love Me Tomorrow." Otherwise, we have producer Gibson laying on strings ("For Better or Worse") to suggest big emotions, songwriter Gibson showing no spark, and singer Gibson adopting that peculiar singer-songwriter accent, in which "for" becomes "fo" and "Happy" becomes "happ-eh." When she tries her hand at rock and roll ("Don't You Want Me Now"), it's of the deadened, show-tune variety. Gibson should have heeded the advice of another song on this album: "Can't Do It Alone." (SBK)

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