Linda Lewis

A Tear and a Smile

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Despite several rough patches at the end of the 1970s, Linda Lewis rebounded with glorious aplomb on her September 1983 album, A Tear and a Smile. More than any of its predecessors, this album finds the singer in complete control of both her songwriting and her remarkable, dynamic vocal range -- at the same time continuing down the path she forged during the previous decade. From start to finish, the songs are filled to bursting with soft ballads and wildly far-reaching grooves, helped along by Bert de Coteaux's immaculate production. But, as good as "I Am What I Am" and the haunting "Sweet Heartache" are, where she gathers her force and puts all her strengths together is on the absolutely stunning title track. Self-penned, "A Tear and a Smile" finds Lewis running without any flaws at all. That just leaves room (and barely!) for "Why Can't I Be the Other Woman," a duet between Lewis and Luther Vandross. His silky soul provides a delicious accompaniment to her own indefatigable style, while Gwen Guthrie adds her voice to the background to amplify the mood even further. A Tear and a Smile leaves little lacking and remains one of Lewis' best efforts, a remarkable portrait of the artist's own growth, of her increasing confidence in her talents, and of her manifold contributions to the face of British soul.

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