Picks and Pans Review: Howard Hewett

updated 04/09/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 04/09/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Howard Hewett

We don't ask much of a Hewett album—not unforgettable melodies, just ones that provide enough runway for him to limber up that strapping, impassioned voice and fly. Well, store those tray tables in an upright position, ace, you're cleared for takeoff.

This is the best solo record yet from the former lead singer for Shalamar. At least it's the roomiest. Take "Show Me." Over a mincing, Minneapolis-style funk riff, Hewett glides through the first verse and chorus in a breathy falsetto. Then, having reached escape velocity, boom, he's suddenly steaming up the chambers of your heart with his pressure-cooker tenor. (In his ability to shift from fluffy to fervid, Hewett resembles a more soulful version of Kenny Loggins.) The album's other good tune is "Let's Get Deeper," on which the track's one-man band, David Gamson, has his synthesizer and drum programs all punching out wild cossack dropkick rhythms.

The pickings are a little sparse otherwise, but Hewett can bang even a completely blasé song like "Let Me Show You How to Fall in Love" into reasonable shape with his gospelly gutbucket. The only time he retreats on this record is when he takes a back seat to Anita Baker on their torch song, "When Will It Be."

Actually, it's more than a torch song. There's more heat and flames involved. It's more like the scene when all the angry townsfolk come up to Baron von Frankenstein's castle waving pitchforks and flares. Yeah, that's it; it's a gothic courtyard of a torch song. Man, if Hewett ever got a hold of some great tunes, he'd be dangerous. (Elektra)

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