Picks and Pans Review: Affection
Nothing is guaranteed in the flavor-of-the-minute world of R&B: hip today, cold tomorrow. Look at Jody Watley. After scoring six Top 10 singles and a pair of platinum albums in the late '80s, the 1987 Best New Artist Grammy winner watched her rising star burn out in the early '90s. But on this, her fifth solo CD, it's clear that Watley, 36, has evolved from the video doll of her early "Looking for a New Love" days into an assured artist who acknowledges current musical trendsetters without aping them. She vamps it up like a one-woman TLC with a tough new-jack swing on the album opener, "The Beat Don't Stop," but avoids that trio's vaguely kiddie vibe. Later on she loses herself in the epic soul of "The Way," sprinkling bits of cool jazz all over the tune's hot, sweaty funk. And for the first time since her 1987 debut, she doesn't stumble when she slows the tempo and dims all the lights. "All Night Love Affair" sports a romantic, summer-in-Provence twist, and "(We Got To Be) Together" simmers so nicely that fans might not even mind that she used an almost identical title for a different tune on her lackluster last album. (Avitone/ Bellmark)
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