Picks and Pans Review: Love, Smokey

updated 04/02/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 04/02/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Smokey Robinson

When it comes to quiet, confident, let's-just-snuggle-into-it seductiveness, nobody this side of Nat Cole and Frank Sinatra can touch old Smokey.

It never hurts an album to have Stevie Wonder play a little harmonica (as he does quite nicely on "Easy") or to have Kenny G add saxophone frosting (on "Just Another Kiss"). But Robinson himself, just turned 50, is in prime voice, shaping notes, caressing lyrics, standing up for romance in an era when it often seems obsolete.

This album does stink up the place in one regard, however: It includes a sample sachet of Robinson's new perfume, Smoke, which smells okay but still seems an intrusion. Musically, though, there's little to complain about. Even "Don't Wanna Be Just Physical," a rap-influenced, mildly up-tempo track that might have been forced, is finessed nicely by Robinson and producers (also co-writers) Howard King and Fritz Cadet.

The elegant love song by Pam Reswick and Steve Werfel that is a hit single, "Everything You Touch," could well be addressed to Robinson himself: "Everything you touch shines a little brighter/ Everything you say sounds so fine." (Motown)

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