Regina Belle: This is Regina

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?”