May 2002

Regina Belle
This is Regina
Peak Records

Presumably in an effort to "modernize" her proven musical chops, Regina Belle has been saddled with some truly silly lyrics and hyped-up funk settings on This Is Regina (Peak PKD-8505-2; 51:51). The venerable Belle, who boasts a pure, growl-to-soar elastic alto, can hold her own with orchestral dramatics and tight jazz curves-so even though her voice can lift try-to-be-hip "attitude" lyrics like "He's peepin' me/He's on the prowl/He thinks I'm goin' home with him, but no, no," ("Don't Wanna Go Home") it just seems a waste. Though there is melodramatic, chewy fun to be had with electronic funk like the Latin-derived story song "La Da Di," (with Belle's hopping, stretching vocal line), more typical tunes clink with too-literal, smarmy lyrics and only serviceable arrangements. The exceptions shine as tailor-made for Belle's embracing vocal-the swinging orchestration of the plaintive ballad "You Said" packs quiet emotion, while the pretty ballad "From Now On" (a duet with Peabo Bryson sound-alike Glenn Jones) is a perfect romantic fit, and a ready-made wedding song to boot. This is more of the Belle we should be hearing, not the one warbling the question, "Can we get together in my crib?"

Originally published in May 2002

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