Wendy Moten

Life's What You Make It

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In the early- to mid-'90s, Wendy Moten mined the same urban/adult contemporary waters that Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston (two frequent comparisons) had been mining -- although she didn't do it with as much commercial success. Commercially, her self-titled debut album of 1992, and her second album, Life's What You Make It (a 1996 release), were decent sellers, although they weren't mega-blockbusters -- certainly not by Carey or Houston's standards. Like those singers -- and for that matter, post-'70s Patti LaBelle -- Moten caters to those who like their R&B laced with a big dose of pop. She also makes a few rock moves here and there, especially on the ominous "Another Nothing Song" -- and while that approach won't win over R&B purists, the Memphis native is good at what she does and can be expressive when she puts her mind to it. Covers are a high priority on this album; the title track is a vibrant cover of Talk Talk's '80s hit, and Moten also turns her attention to the Rascals' "People Got to Be Free," and the Police's "When the World Is Running Down." Thankfully, she is smart enough to do something different with these songs instead of trying to provide carbon copies of the original versions. "People Got to Be Free," for example, becomes a slow ballad in Moten's hands, which is quite a contrast to the exuberance of the Rascals' 1968 version. This CD isn't as strong as it could have been; although most of Moten's performances are memorable, there are a few weak tracks as well. Nonetheless, Life's What You Make It is a generally respectable, if slightly uneven, sophomore outing for the Memphis singer.

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