Since springing solo from the Europop trio Matt Bianco in 1987, Basia has made a platinum habit out of sounding happy while singing the lovesick blues. With her third album, The Sweetest Illusion, the Polish-born star croons a more lovestruck tune. Though her patented mix of samba, bossa nova, jazz lite and R&B remains, she cages some of her merry abandon and captures the apprehensive rapture that's often a symptom of love's spell. "She deserves it and can't get used to so much joy," she sings over one mournful riff.
But old habits are hard to break. Lest things get too soppy, Basia returns to familiar form on finger-snappers like "Third Time Lucky" and "More Fire Than Flame." She may not sing everything with such a broad smile, but that doesn't make The Sweetest Illusion any less contagious. (Epic)