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RECORD RACK

Vandross: Mr. Romantic

May 30, 1993|DENNIS HUNT

LUTHER VANDROSS

"Never Let Me Go"

Epic

* * *

While younger soul fans are cuddling to Johnny Gill and Babyface records, the over-30 crowd is making out to dreamy music by Vandross--the Johnny Mathis of this generation.

This is another classy collection of mostly slow and medium-tempo romantic songs--some gliding along on elegant, light-gospel undercurrents--featuring his high, cooing, sexy vocals. A medley of rhapsodic oldies--the Bee Gees' "How Deep Is Your Love," the Spinners' "Love Don't Love Nobody" and Johnny Ace's "Never Let Me Go"--is Vandross at his dreamiest.

Vandross, who produces and writes with Marcus Miller, sometimes explores melancholy moods but avoids deep, unsettling probes of the dark side of relationships or forays into steamy sex. His music is strictly designed to envelop you in swirls of romantic feelings.

The album doesn't offer much variety, and sometimes Vandross' brand of lush soul feels mannered. There are no surprises either, but Vandross knows his audience isn't looking for surprises. He never sullies his debonair image by getting too funky, though "Lady Lady" and "Love Is on the Way" do sink into nifty grooves.

Over the years, Vandross has been settling deeper into his niche, continuing to refine rather than expand his music. Still, in the sweepstakes of sophisticated soul, he's way ahead of the pack.

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