A solid, thoroughly enjoyable Michael McDonald album
Dave | United States | 06/17/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"It was going on 5 years since Michael McDonald's last album when "Take It To Heart" was released in May of 1990. McDonald had done some music in the meantime including the big hits "Sweet Freedom" and the Patti LaBelle duet "On My Own", songs that suggested McDonald's future might not be too bright from an artistic standpoint. However, Michael rose to the occasion, delivering a solid, consistently enjoyable album that finds him in peak vocal form, which is saying a lot.
Unsurprisingly, there's very much of a late '80s/ early '90s production sheen, but that said, only on a few songs is there a real attempt at sounding 'up to date'. One of these is the uptempo album-opener "All We Got"--it was remixed by Shep Pettibone, and it's a great, dramatic club-dance song packed with powerful hooks. Another example is the adult contemporary ballad title track--considering that it was co-written by Diane Warren, it's not surprising that it's quite sugary, but it still has some appeal, thanks to McDonald's incredibly soulful vocals on the chorus. Then there's "Tear It Up", one of two tracks here that Michael had no involvement in writing--it's a sugary feel-good tune and the hip-hop beats on it are a bit much, but it's still got enough taste and tunefulness to make it respectable.
The other track Michael didn't have any part in writing is "One Step Away" which is a rather sickly-sweet ballad, but likewise, it's tastefully performed and has effective hooks. The album ends with the engagingly lush and mellow smooth-jazz style "You Show Me"--the lyrics are pretty sappy, but it's still a nice track.
Many of the tracks have an appealingly organic, punchy sound, thanks in no small part to the late Jeff Porcaro's crisp drumming--the minor-keyed ballad "Love Can Break Your Heart" (co-written by Paul Carrack) and the dynamic, tormented "Lonely Talk" are both excellent tracks; and both the ballad "No Amount Of Reason" and the socially conscious "Homeboy" are solid as well, even though ace guitarist Michael Landau does get carried away on this latter track with his metallic guitar soloing. "Get The Word Started", co-written by David Pack (of Ambrosia fame), is a tad sugary, but it's still very nicely funked-up, catchy, and extremely good.
So, "Take It To Heart" isn't a masterpiece, but it's solid--it's one of those albums you can put on and enjoy all the way through and not feel utterly compelled to skip any tracks; even the weakest ones still make for solid background music. You can probably snap this disc up cheap, and it's worth doing so."
Closer to 3 and a half stars than 3 stars
Bud Gott | New Castle, DE USA | 11/01/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I've always liked this album, but I've always wished I liked it more than I do. There are one or two songs on here that I skip over when listening to the CD. (For example, I just can't get into the song Homeboy for some reason.)
Why did I give it over 3 stars then? Because the good songs on here are VERY good songs! My favorites are: Take It To Heart, Tear It Up, and You Show Me. All really great songs!
Actually, there are no truly bad songs on here. Even Homeboy's halfway decent. Michael is my favorite singer, so maybe I'm just too picky and expect too much all the time. I want every song to knock me off my feet, and not every song on here does.
Still, as I said, there are some really great songs on this one. Plus, it's hard to go wrong with Michael's voice. If you're a fan, you're most likely going to like this album."