This is the first solo album from the talented writer/producer/singer El DeBarge. Released in 1986, the self-titled album was the expected next step. After recording four albums with his siblings, the success of the 1985 hit singles "Rhythm of the Night" and "Who's Holding Donna Now" all but swung the doors open for a solo career. While the setup and idea are still exciting on paper, El DeBarge is a disappointment. That being said, there are some high points here. Burt Bacharach and Carole Bayer Sager's "Love Always" has one of Bacharach's most challenging '80s melodies. DeBarge handles the sorrowful lyrics with great pacing and delivery. While a little sappy, "Someone" attains enough momentum to be poignant. "Lost Without Her Love" offered DeBarge's best vocal of the album and has a pitch-perfect '80s L.A. pop arrangement. Unfortunately DeBarge's hits from earlier efforts seemed to point him in an odd direction. The abysmal "Who's Johnny" might have caused many to break camp with him altogether. The majority of the other tracks just don't do anything to enliven the product or accentuate his voice. The fact that DeBarge didn't have a hand in producing or writing the songs all but made this ho-hum from the start.
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AllMusic Review by Jason Elias