Picks and Pans Review: Blue Pacific

updated 08/20/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/20/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Michael Franks

Sounding relatively upbeat and energized, Franks gives this album just the touch of zest his work has often lacked. Particularly on two tracks where Frank is accompanied by guitarist Larry Carlton and pianist Joe Sample, "Long Slow Distance" and "Chez Nous," the spirit seems willing and the voice is strong enough to keep up.

It's still a little hard to categorize Franks: Jazz? Fusion? Pop?

Maybe frustrated Broadway composer would do it, since this album includes a number of songs—"Vincent's Ear," "Blue Pacific," "Woman in the Waves"—that appear to be part of Franks's long-discussed musical based on the life of Paul Gauguin.

Whatever bin he falls into, though, Franks has a nice ear for the unusual rhyme: "Every time we touch I feel a deeper meaning/ Hearts convening;" "I see invitation in your smile/ To celebrate our passions/ Without guile."

Literacy in pop music is too rare a quality to not be encouraged, and when Franks peps up his whispery, honey-coated voice as he does here, he makes you (1) wish he would do a duet with the similarly witty, wordly-wise Blossom Dearie and (2) want to listen some more. (Reprise)

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