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June 1997

Mark Portmann
No Truer Words
Zebra

With many TV themes and scores, as well as arranging credits with a Barbra Streisand pedigree under his belt, it's surprising that keyboardist Mark Portmann could craft an album as derivative and dull as No Truer Words (Zebra ZD 44001; 52:06). Where the Rippingtons' keyboardist's last solo effort, the car-themed Road Music, was a lively romp, Words is filled with urban-dark atmospheric night cruisers sampled from the Rick Braun bin ("Here I Go Again," accompanied by conventional A/C balladeer Warren Weibe, and "No Truer Words") and sanitized, synthesizer pseudo-funk. Evidenced on the wirey, soulful album highlight "Slink," Portmann is a great pianist, equally comfortable in hard-chorded soul settings ("Michi," as well as "Slink") and more delicate environments ("Come as You Are," "Canyons"). Portmann also employs talented supporting players like vocalist Lori Perry (on a quietly warm read of "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face") but wastes the work by employing sanitizing effects like "Face"'s relentless click-track. Why Portmann mostly wastes his own considerable talents here (he also produces and arranges) is a mystery.

Originally published in June 1997
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