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Fall Album Roundup : Jones: Hip-hop Synth-pop

November 23, 1986|DUNCAN STRAUSS

"ONE TO ONE." Howard Jones. Elektra. Howie goes hip-hop?Well, not totally. But guided by producer Arif Mardin (best known for his work with Chaka Khan), Jones has placed many of his songs into an array of techno-funk settings. If the stuttering rhythmic drives, snappy edits and stylish textures on "One to One" sound a bit trendy coming from the former synth-popper, that's not entirely a minus.

Jones still tends to approach songwriting as a form of cheerleading: His observations are so broad, and his exhortations so wide-eyed, that he ends up not saying much. But at least now he says it with more spunk and variety, and he's always had a strong melodic sense.

Jones gives "One to One" a nice twist by closing with "Little Bit of Snow," the album's most musically stark and lyrically direct song. It's a heartfelt anti-drug plea, and while that theme has been better addressed by others, it does show that Jones can write a specific, poignant song.

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