Like the latter-day Doobie Brothers, Kenny Loggins has helped forge the new sound of Southern California: a sophisticated, diffuse, jazz-inflected pop rock performed by an augmented rock band in which guitar and keyboards share equal prominence. But while the Doobies have settled on a soulful, elaborately pointillistic sound, Loggins' music remains stylistically hazy. Keep the Fire, like Nightwatch and Celebrate Me Home before it, is an album of churning romantic atmosphere constructed around a matinee idol's voice. Its idioms range from genteel bar-band funk in "Mr. Night" to the borderline jazz-rock fusion of "Who's Right, Who's Wrong" to Jamaican novelty music in "Junkanoo Holiday (Fallin'Flyin')."
Keep the Fire's best moments boast Loggins as a breathy, excitable romantic balladeera sort of funk-wise, late-Seventies Eddie Fisher. In "Give It Half a Chance," a superior schlock love song written with Stephen Bishop, the singer delivers some impressively polished and relaxed falsetto crooning. "This Is It," Loggins and Michael McDonald's followup to "What a Fool Believes." is as tuneful as its predecessor, and with the two collaborators sharing the vocals, it's the LP's high point.
Keep the Fire has the mind of a travel poster and the soul of a valentine. Hearts will flutter, I suppose. (RS 310)
(Posted: Feb 7, 1980)
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