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Nicole Henry: The Nearness of You

Apparently, Nicole Henry (sounding like a cross between breathy one-hit wonder Charlene, who scored big a couple of decades back with that cheesy salute to upper-crust whoredom “I’ve Never Been to Me,” and Whitney Houston at her most chest-thumping histrionic) is all the rage among the buff ‘n’ bronzed South Beach club crowd. Indeed, she’s just the sort of big-voiced belter who easily earns iconic status at boites and bistros from Fire Island to San Francisco. Which is not to suggest that Henry isn’t talented. As demonstrated throughout most of The Nearness of You (Banister), she can sell a power ballad as well as Whitney, Diana, Patti LaBelle, Brenda Russell or any of those other dreamgirl shouters. Her “Summertime” has depth, her “Fly Me to the Moon” has oomph and her “Over the Rainbow” certainly takes flight. She even serves up a nice surprise with an understatedly tender treatment of Bobby Troup’s too-rarely covered “You’re Looking at Me.” Ah, but her sing-to-the-rafters “Imagine,” overflowing with flourishes that must have John Lennon spinning, is a definite miss.

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