Don't call Renaissance a comeback -- it's actually Lionel Richie's third album since 1996, when he returned from a decade-long hiatus. Richie's last two efforts went nowhere, however, so either he's due for a break or it just ain't gonna happen for the guy. Odds aside though, Renaissance brings the goods. This is unabashedly slick adult contemporary fare -- file between Eric Clapton's work with Babyface and the last Tina Turner album -- but Richie can still write and sing the hell out of a get-you-right-there-where-it-hurts ballad; "Tender Heart" and particularly "How Long" both measure up to 1983's "Hello." The up-tempo numbers are more hit and miss, but even if the obvious-but-ultimately winning "Angel" and "Don't Stop the Music" don't quite inspire dancing on the ceiling, they'll at least get you tapping the dashboard of your Lexus. And Ricky, Enrique and Santana, take note: a cover of the flamenco-seasoned "Cinderella" is a Number One hit-in-waiting for whoever calls dibs on it first. That is, unless the third time's the charm and Richie scores a hit with it himself. (RICHARD SKANSE)
(Posted: Mar 22, 2001)
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