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The Velvet Rope

10/07/1997 3:00 AM, Yahoo! Music
J.R. Reynolds

This set ranks with the pop superstar's finest efforts, but it's a sleeper. Thoughtful and pertinent, the album's somewhat darkish tone makes the expressive songs slower to digest lyrically. Jackson employs a multitude of octave ranges, voice-wise, and while she's never been known for possessing extraordinary singing skills, she nevertheless turns in a satisfying sonic effort through colorful vocal texturing and phrasing.

"You" utilizes funky production verve from veteran studio wizard Jimmy Jam, and features a loop of War's "Cisco Kid." "What About," a schizophrenic tale of romance and domestic abuse, offers gentle guitar play juxtaposed with those more heated and angry. "Every Time," a simple but endearing ballad, bodes well with "Tonight's The Night," a cool-out cover of the Rod Stewart classic. Catchy chord progressions highlight "I Get Lonely," while "Special" is an uplifting organic musical poem that crescendos in a rousing spiritual chorus.

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