Goffin returned from a long absence with This Is the Place, released with a big promotional push from Warners on both sides of the Atlantic. Despite that, the record didn't succeed in establishing Goffin as a major artist and, in fact, presaged another disappearance from the scene.
The album finds her teamed with successful popular songwriting partnerships of the time: Tom Kelly and Billy Steinberg (hitmakers for Madonna and Cyndi Lauper) and Tony Swain and Steve Jolley (pre-Stock/Aitken/Waterman songsmiths to Bananarama). The songs, including those written with no outside help, have a slick, tight, professional coherence not evident in Goffin's earlier work. "Deep Kiss," skating dangerously near Diane Warren-style power ballad territory, sounds like a number of hits from the period and could conceivably have landed in the charts had Goffin's name been bigger. The record's main weakness is that it relies chiefly on subdued, somber, romantic melancholy for almost all of its lyrical colorings. The overall effect is oddly draining, since even though the writing is generally good, there's a conspicuous lack of different flavors, and only the pugnacious "Carnival" injects some zest and warmth into the proceedings. The arrangements are similarly uninspiring: typically smooth, shiny late-'80s keyboard sounds, polite, near-timid guitar, and lite-funk rhythms ("Send a Message"). There's nothing that can really be found fault with -- indeed, Goffin's singing is more confident and less squeaky than before -- but at the same time, there aren't many surprises. These irks aside, if polished, well-judged, and mildly anguished pop is your thing, then This Is the Place is at least a solid, catchy listen. It's just that one can't help but feel that Goffin could make a brilliant album, rather than mere good efforts like this.