Mandrell always seems more comfortable and convincing as a plain old country singer than she does in her mega-entertainer mode. But she would be hard put to take a bigger plunge—or dive—than she does on this misguided album.
It starts off with a version of the pop standard "The Nearness of You" that is stiff to the point of rigor mortis, despite some attractive background fills by Rob Hajacos on fiddle. Then there's "I'm Not Your Super-woman," written by pop funksters L.A. Reid, Kenneth "Babyface" Edmond and Daryl Simmons. Mandrell has a lot of admirable qualities, but soulfulness isn't one of them, and this track plods where it should bounce, sputters where it should soar.
Even the countrified cuts on the album seem infected. The Keith Stegall-Roger Murrah tune "Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People," with a title lifted almost verbatim from the remedial-pop philosophy best-seller by Harold S. Kushner, is whiny in the extreme.
Only in a duet with Ray Price on the standby "Crazy Arms" does Mandrell get much emotion across.
While she's in splendid voice, warm and energetic, she and her longtime producer, Tom Collins, have plopped that voice in a wilderness here. Mandrell doesn't even come close to singing her way out. (Capitol)