Paul Davis signed to Arista for 1981’s Cool Night, and with the new label, the singer/songwriter attempted a bit of a new sound, freshening up his soft rock with scores of synthesizers that were all the rage in 1981. He didn’t completely leave behind the warm glow of his late-‘70s records -- it was evident on the wonderful hit title track as well as the easy pulse of “You Come to Me” -- but drum machines provided many of the rhythms here, and the shimmering sounds of electric pianos were replaced by synthesizers. Sometimes, this modernization suits Davis quite fine -- the insistent “What You Got to Say About Love” and “Nathan Jones” make the most of their mechanized rhythms -- but it can just as often sound stiff and awkward, especially when paired with Davis’ rather odd streak of nostalgia throughout the album ("65 Love Affair” looks back explicitly “Somebody’s Gettin’ to You” is written from the vantage point of a high schooler). Even if Cool Night is a bit misshapen as an album, almost all of it is saved by “Cool Night” the song, a quintessential piece of smooth, soft rock that provides a perfect coda to Davis’ career.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine