Picks and Pans Review: Just for You

updated 06/07/2004 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 06/07/2004 01:00AM

Lionel Richie

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On "Ball and Chain," the best song on Lionel Richie's passable eighth solo disc, he reminds you of why he had a lock on the charts in the '80s. It's a vintage Richie weepie with a simple, effortlessly catchy melody, a clever, country-style lyrical conceit ("This love's a ball and chain") and an affecting, acoustic-guitar-driven arrangement that would make Babyface jealous. Just for Youshows that Richie, 54, is still at his richest on ballads such as the Celtic-tinged "Just to Be with You Again" and the sentimental, string-laden "Time of Our Life," cowritten by Lenny Kravitz, who plays guitar and sings backing vocals on the track. Kravitz also produced "Time" as well as "Road to Heaven," a southern-accented mid-tempo number that seamlessly bridges the gap between soul and country. Richie is less successful incorporating gospel on cuts such as the "We Are the World"-esque "One World" and Middle Eastern flourishes on the underwhelming "She's Amazing." Worst, though, is his faux-funk duet with Daniel Bedingfield ("Gotta Get Thru This") on "Do Ya," which is really something worth crying over.

POP

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