Picks and Pans Review: Love Is Gonna Getcha

updated 05/14/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/14/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Patti Austin

For every hit there's a miss on this breezy batch of pop and jazz arrangements from a singer whose ambitious reach easily exceeds her more limited material.

Among the hits are Austin's own "In My Life," a sweetly soulful ballad that shows off this talented stylist's way with feeling and phrasing. Enjoyable for its down-and-funky sound is "Ooh-Whee (The Carnival)" by Don Grusin and Austin. "Through the Test of Time" is the opener and perhaps the best cut, by virtue of a full-bodied melody that leaves plenty of room for Austin to exercise her graceful vocal strengths. Sadly, this welcome exhibitionism does not come through on the safer stuff, like the sleep-inducing "In My Dream" and the disappointing title cut that is all sugar and no spice.

Producer Grusin, who first teamed with Austin on her 1977 hit album Havana Candy, plays keyboards on these mostly mid-tempo tunes. He has assembled an impressive array of composers (including Michael McDonald), as well as a roster of musicians and background vocalists that includes guitarist Lee Ritenour, saxophonists Ernie Watts and Nelson Rangell and vocalists James "D-Train" Williams and Robin Beck.

There's a bonus cut on the CD—Marvin Hamlisch's much fussed over "The Girl Who Used to Be Me" from the film Shirley Valentine. Despite its ponderous orchestration and overwrought lyrics—"The girl who used to be me...left without a sound/Nobody noticed she wasn't around/And only the moon remembers her at all"—Austin turns it into an admirable track, mostly on the strength of a vocal attitude that is the equivalent of holding your head up high.

As a live performer, Austin often displays a powerhouse delivery. Too often on these selections, however, her beautiful voice is limited in its impact by songs that are merely pretty. (GRP)

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