Uneven styles of sounds make for flawed but worthy album
Daniel J. Hamlow | Narita, Japan | 11/29/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)
"After the more mellowed sounds of Touch, and with the transition period of 1989/1990, what was Laura Branigan to do? She found new producers, even self-produced some, found some new sounds, went back to her old style, and did some songs that was not worthy of her, given her talent."Moonlight On Water" finds her going back to the upbeat synth pop that made her a big name with her first four albums. The theme of leisure time spent with someone special being more important than a Mercedes or that big promotion is something done previously: "Instead of dreamin' 'bout all that money/we got much simpler things to do" she sings. One of the better songs here."Bad Attitude" is something Laura is not impressed with, preferring someone who's not a raw diamond. The chorus is a mixture of funky synths, accompanying R&B vocals and a fiery guitar. This is a newer kind of sound for Branigan.In the keyboard ballad "Never In A Million Years" Laura's voice is still in peak form, the way she did the heartfelt cover of Alphaville's "Forever Young" on Hold Me or "Will You Still Love Me" on Self Control. Another highlight cut."Smoke Screen" is a mid-paced number about the defense mechanisms one uses to protect one's feelings after being burned. The synths, drum machine and backing vocals in the chorus makes this more a Taylor Dayne song, a la "I'll Be Your Shelter.""Let Me In" sounds like something Janet Jackson or Paula Abdul would be better off doing. As for Laura, sorry, no sandwich from the picnic basket.Given her great cover songs from the past, one would expect her to make Vicki Sue Robinson's disco standard "Turn The Beat Around" a winner, but it's a bit uninspired, as the tempo's slowed down, so that's unexcusable. Gloria Estefan did a much better cover of this, more to the spirit of the original.Her cover of "Unison" is remarkable for the same reason that Celine Dion not only also covered it that year, but took that as the title of her English-language debut. There isn't that much difference between the two versions, as it is an unremarkable mid-paced dance song."No Promise-No Guarantee" is better suited for Jennifer Rush--what that woman could do with this!--but Laura and her accompanying vocalists do an admirable enough job of a song averring to open one's heart and world despite no promises and no guarantees.With the guitar and synth song, "Reverse Psychology" sounds like either an 80's movie song that failed to hit a soundtrack or something Jennifer Rush might have rejected.OK, she had to get one of three cover songs bang on, and she does so with her heartfelt cover of Bryan Adams' "The Best Was Yet To Come", which has a synth instead of electric piano, but I hear the Laura Branigan I'm used to, as well as the Pasadena Boys Choir making this a more haunting version than Bryan's. "What's so good about goodbye, when the best was yet to come?" she asks. A great way to end the album.Laura Branigan's self-titled debut finds her scrambling in all directions. Getting back to her old sound and doing the emotional ballads was a good moves, and her voice is still at its peak, but a bad choice of songs, instrumentations that aren't catchy, and a lack of oomph in a sagging midsection really hurt this album. A flawed yet worthy attempt to find a place in 1990."
One of my favorites by Laura Branigan
Daniel J. Hamlow | 09/18/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"After a few chart-topping albums, Laura's career started to decline by critics, but I still think her music was great. Her 1990 self-titled album is no disappointment. While the style of her music started to slighly change, the material seemed to mature. It doesn't have the same quality that Self Control does, but if you are a fan of Laura's you will find that it is still excellent. Unfortunately, none of the songs reached the top of the charts. My favorite tracks are: Moonlight on Water, Bad Attitude, Never in a Million Years, Turn the Beat Around, Unison, and No Promise, No Guarantee. I would definitely recommend this album."