Picks and Pans Review: Cry Like a Rainstorm—howl Like the Wind

updated 10/23/1989 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 10/23/1989 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Linda Ronstadt

Not least among the kaleidoscopic pleasures of Ronstadt's work is that what she does—and the enthusiastic way she does it—so often bespeaks a flat-out, totally requited love of music. Not only does her singing sound good, it is also obvious that it feels good.

This album has no standards, no country turns, no Mexican-roots music. It's full of bright, intelligent pop and light California rock, the music that first made Ronstadt successful. Yet it never seems like a retreat; it seems instead like a homecoming.

One reason the album works so well is the presence of R & B vocalist Aaron Neville, who is to New Orleans what Ronstadt is to Los Angeles—a singer laureate. He appears on four tracks—notably "Don't Know Much" and "I Need You"—and his voice seems almost too similar in color and tone to Ronstadt's. But he, Ronstadt and producer Peter Asher obviously heard the possibilities in pairing the singers: Their voices fuse like sunlight beaming through a stained-glass window.

The album also benefits from contributions by such eminent pop songwriters as Eric Kaz (the title track), Jimmy Webb ("Shattered," among others), Karla Bonoff ("All My Life") and Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil and Tom Snow ("Don't Know Much"). Ronstadt also does the Isaac Hayes-David Porter tune that was a 1967 hit for Sam and Dave, "When Something Is Wrong with My Baby."

There's no great let's-find-a-new-genre surprise. There is reassurance: Good, new pop songs are around for those singers capable of finding and interpreting them this well. (Elektra)

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