* * * 1/2 "COMING AROUND AGAIN," Carly Simon, Arista. Given the fact that this album employed nine producers, it could easily have sounded labored. But it doesn't. It's a warm, lighthearted, friendly album, and easily Simon's best since "No Secrets" made her a star 15 years ago. The best song is the wistful title track, which Simon wrote for the movie "Heartburn." It begins as a slice-of-life account of domestic bliss, and then teeters between melancholy and contentment before ending on a hopeful note. It's a perfect counterpoint to the bitter resignation of an earlier Simon hit about marriage, "That's the Way I've Always Heard it Should Be."
The album's overall--and timely--theme is the importance of romantic commitment. This is conveyed in the gloriously melodic "The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of" (one of seven Simon originals) and in a remake of Joe Tex's "Hold What You've Got," which features a tongue-in-cheek rap about how "it's cooler for you to be faithful."
The album's romantic quality and its relaxed mood are both exemplified in a warm, witty version of "As Time Goes By." Simon transforms the pop classic into a loping shuffle, complete with a mellow harmonica solo by Stevie Wonder.