After the release of 1982's All This Love, the group became one of the most popular and talented acts in music. While that effort was a likeable though uneven affair, In A Special Way was, in short, a classic. This boasts a minimalist and artful sound, and rumor has it that the horn tracks were lost during the recording. So as a result In A Special Way is one of the most spare and effective albums of the '80s. The first track, the synth based "Be My Lady," and the bittersweet and pragmatic "Need Somebody," both feature lead vocals from James DeBarge. In A Special Way also marked the coming of age of the vocally gifted El DeBarge as a producer and writer. The biggest hit here, the poignant and spare "Time Will Reveal," is perfect, from its beautiful arrangement and flawless backing vocals to El DeBarge's amazing lead. His prowess also makes the potentially overdone sentiments of "Love Me In A Special Way" come off instead as romantic and effective. The last track, "A Dream," was written and sung by Bunny DeBarge. With a great melody line, the song accurately attains a sense of longing as Bunny DeBarge's lead is particularly moving. Although R&B and rap have appropriated segments of this album in every conceivable manner, the greatness begins and ends with this album.
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AllMusic Review by Jason Elias