Picks and Pans Review: Next

updated 10/06/1997 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 10/06/1997 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Vanessa Williams

Although she recently has become better known as an A-list actress in high-profile films (Eraser, Hoodlum, Soul Food), Vanessa Williams remains a remarkable singer. But after the soothing, jazz-leaning balladry of 1994's The Sweetest Days, you'd think she might be ready to pick up the pace. No such luck. Her fifth disc is packed with enough silly love songs to make even hopeless romantics numb. Williams is a convincing balladeer, but she's at her best on Next's saucy opening cuts: In "Who Were You Thinkin' 'Bout?" she takes on an unfaithful lover with a sassy tone that's both sexy and scolding, and her playful. vocal on "Happiness" effortlessly spreads that emotional state. But, alas, she soon lapses into a lovesick funk with songs like "Crazy 'Bout You." Please, Vanessa, more happiness. (Mercury)

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