Picks and Pans Review: Crucial

updated 03/16/1998 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/16/1998 AT 01:00 AM EST

Ali

Today's practitioners of soul struggle with a creative conundrum. How do you invoke the glory days without coming off like an archivist or a mimic with a Stevie Wonder fixation? One man with the answer is British singer-songwriter AH (born Alistair Tennant). With Crucial, he has fashioned an album of love songs that is silky, sexy, playful and gimmick free—in short, a modern-day soul album that does justice to the music's past while still representing its present. Not that Ali isn't guilty of a little hero worship: His wavering tenor has more than a hint of R&B great Ronald Isley. But despite echoing those who influenced him, he still manages to prove that he is his own man. (Island Black Music)

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