Picks and Pans Review: Warm Your Heart
This record will have some critics ready to pounce. "Just as we expected," those who review first and ask questions later may be tempted to write. "Our peerless patriarch of pop-soul singers does some duets with Linda Ronstadt, wins some Grammys, and hits adult radio. Then he serves up this slick patchwork of songs."
Not so fast, folks. No question, there's a commercial polish to Neville's first solo outing in 20-plus years. But he's not playing with his brothers here (except on one track), which makes it easier for Neville to roam in a more stylized, romantic setting.
He puts his own dreamy spin on such covers as John Hiatt's "It Feels Like Rain," with Ry Cooder lending a delicate hand on slide guitar. "Don't Go, Please Stay" matches Neville's pristine falsetto with the Grace Episcopal Choir's angels-on-high backing.
Of course, it wouldn't be a complete Aaron Neville record without I he charismatic presence of Ronstadt, who also coproduced. Together, they soar on "Close Your Eyes," a Chuck Willis ballad where the two might be carving their initials on a' tree to immortalize their recording love affair. Less swoon-fill are the title track's light honky-tonk and the '50s doo-wop—gospel mix on "I Bid You Good Night."
The final track, Neville's rendering of Schubert's "Ave Maria," is both powerful in its delivery and a little over-the-top, as if he still has to prove he can perform any song under the sun. Don't sweat it, Aaron. We're convinced. (A&M)"