Martin Nievera

Return to Forever

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In 1999, Philippine male singer Martin Nievera released his second album of the year, Return to Forever. The album is the third in a series that started with 1998's Forever and 1999's Forever, Forever. As with the first two albums in the series, Return to Forever is dominated by remakes of American middle-of-the-road love songs. Of the album's 15 tracks, 13 are remakes of American songs and two are remakes of Philippine songs. The American remakes include such songs as Barry Manilow's "Weekend in New England," Phil Collins' "Against All Odds," and Stevie Wonder's "Too Shy to Say." Twelve of the album's 15 songs are slow love songs and three songs have some spirit; these include David Gates' "Goodbye Girl," Bill Medley's "(I've Had) The Time of My Life," and an upbeat version of Tower of Power's early-'70s hit "So Very Hard to Go," which is markedly different from the original. The 12 slow love songs, which include "Someone That I Used to Know" and "The Greatest Love Affair," can be too much. After Martin Nievera's exciting version of "(I've Had) The Time of My Life," for example, the listener is ready for more excitement, but is instead met by another slow love song, "The Gift of Time." After that, the album ends. The placement of the spirited songs seems careless, and they do not cohere with the rest of the album. Nonetheless, Martin Nievera possesses a strong and versatile voice, and his performances here are excellent. However, while Return to Forever is the best in the series, it's time to try something else other than singing remakes of American love songs. Martin Nievera has been quoted as saying he wants to reach an international audience and realizes he needs original and more upbeat material to achieve that goal.

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