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Jeffrey Osborne: That’s for Sure

With a crossover career of long standing, including top-charting hits like “On the Wings of Love,” Jeffrey Osborne has one of the most recognizable voices around-rich, resonant and, above all, swooningly romantic. It seems a shame to waste those pipes on the series of dull, undistinguished mid-tempo ballads populating That’s for Sure (Private Music 01005-82170-2; 65:35). The content here, full of squishy keyboards, thudding percussion programs and pinched, annoying background vocals, focuses on snarky seduction rather than lofty romance. Osborne-still in fine voice-has only slimy, ultra-literal lyrics to work with on boudoir ballads like “Kreepin’,” “Work That Body,” and “Soft and Slow,” which reduces the singer to cliched purrs and growls. There are a few memorable moments, however, like “All My Money,” which invigorates with its catchy chorus and synth horns, allowing Osborne to stretch a bit. A live recording of “Love Ballad” also shows that the energy and potential of this great vocalist are still there, in spite of the trappings.

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