Picks and Pans Review: The One Thing

updated 01/17/1994 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 01/17/1994 AT 01:00 AM EST

Michael Bolton

At an awards ceremony, Bolton once suggested that critics who consistently rejected his music could simply buss his backside. Judging by his latest effort, the blustery pop balladeer has apparently chosen once again to please the crowd rather than the critics. Bolton cowrote (with Diane Warren and Mutt Lange) all but two of the songs for this, his seventh album. On the opening cut, the surprisingly graceful "Said I Loved You...But I Lied," his tar-paper voice finds nuance and true, quiet passion. From then on, however, the album suffocates under the weight of its overstuffed production and the sentimental schmaltz that Bolton and his songwriting collaborators can't seem to get enough of. There's also the obligatory soul gem, but Bolton's rendition of "Lean on Me," although helped by some tasteful, choir-like backing vocals, only makes those old enough to remember Bill Withers's 1972 version wistful for the original. (Columbia)

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