Whereas Houston's first album was a scattershot group of songs (many of which became hits) divvied up among several producers, the new album is more focused and cohesive. Narada Michael Walden is the primary helmsman here, but tunes are split among producers Kashif, Michael Masser and Jellybean. Importantly, none of them takes a particularly divergent approach.
Six of the album's seven songs are ballads. ``Just the Lonely Talking Again`` is swept along by a graceful, romantic melody, and Houston pulls out all the vocal stops - there's a jazzy abandon to her phrasing. Flip the coin and you have ``Didn't We Almost Have It All,`` an overblown tune co-written by Michael Masser (who also co-wrote ``The Greatest Love of All``) that finds Houston stripped of subtlety - with her wire-to-wire belting, you can just see the fetching songstress looking skyward, arms outstretched. Whitney [Houston]'s mother, Cissy Houston, is featured on the album's only duet, the lilting ``I Know Him So Well.`` Mom adds a brief, welcome moment of grainy soulfulness to the album.
The uptempo material is a similarly mixed bag. ``So Emotional,`` the record's token rock offering, is hollow and contrived, as if the trumped-up power guitars are supposed to give the song some guts. On the other hand, ``Love Will Save the Day`` is a unique tune on an extremely mainstream album. Its lively Afro-Cuban flavor, driven by a wall of clattering percussion, is truly joyous. ``Love is a Contact Sport`` playfully updates Motown with its bouncy, irrepressible hook. The album's most soulful track is an earlier version of the breezy Isley Brothers tune, ``For the Love of You.`` A great song to start with, Houston interprets it with ease and delicacy.
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