Picks and Pans Review: Compositions

updated 07/30/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/30/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Anita Baker

Most of the songs on this album are routine at best, just chords masquerading as excuses for Baker to scat and soar and generally dazzle everybody. But there are a couple of more distinctly formed tunes that give her much more to work with, and that dazzle becomes an explosion of musical color. It's the difference between holding a diamond up to a 60-watt bulb and holding it up to the sun.

Baker wrote one of those exceptional tracks, "Lonely," herself, and she teamed with keyboardist Vernon Fails and producer Michael Powell on the other, "Fairy Tales," in which a woman remembers the knight-on-horseback stories she heard as a girl as she sings to a real-life lover, "You never came to save me/ You let me stand alone." Both the tracks also include long, ebullient solos by Fails. Every pop-jazz-fusion-R&B-whatever album should display such spontaneity.

Elsewhere on the album, Baker benefits from a guest sit-in by guitarist Earl Klugh and from a tune by Terry Britten and Graham Lyle. Even Baker can't make much of some of the material she herself (as executive producer and co-composer) and Powell have provided. But she demonstrates the resilient, intense, adventuresome vocal style that has made her such a deserving sensation since her breakthrough with Rapture in 1986. (Elektra)

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