Luther Vandross

Dance with My Father

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AllMusic Review by

Luther Vandross pours his heart and soul into Dance with My Father's title track, an ambitious kickoff single that misrepresents an album where most highlights are down-tempo. Vandross' own serious ailment at the time of the single's release makes the song's references to absent loved ones even more poignant. In top form at the time of recording, he is able to deliver the song with a voice strong enough to handle the monolithic sentimentality of the lyrics and Richard Marx's swollen production. The six-minute, sensual quiet storm "The Closer I Get to You" is the other high-profile track, a duet with Beyoncé Knowles holding her own with Vandross' perfect phrasing. The rest of the album's winners are the most restrained numbers, often with Marcus Miller or Vandross himself in the producer's chair. The Vandross-helmed "If I Didn't Know Better" is a complex combination of bitterness and vulnerability, with Vandross confronting a two-timing lover. Miller's "She Saw You" borrows heavily from Timbaland's production style, adding a tasteful Wes Montgomery-toned guitar to surround another story of betrayal. Superstar R&B album conventions being what they are, Busta Rhymes' and Foxy Brown's guest spots feel more mandatory than necessary, but Queen Latifah's contribution to "Hit It Again" is welcome and inspired. Tacked onto the end of the album, "They Said You Needed Me" is a silly, light calypso and also the one true dud. Dance with My Father isn't able to maintain the high standards it often achieves, but Vandross' voice is always compelling and the background singers live up to the superior arrangements throughout. With nearly 70 minutes of music on the disc to choose from, more savvy listeners will be able to program their CD players for a more focused and rewarding listen.

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