Laura Branigan

Touch

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Laura Branigan's fifth album, Touch, showed signs of maturity as she made a bid (that was not quite successful) for adult contemporary crossover -- a smart chance to take considering the longevity many A/C acts have. Her big, boomy voice is perfect for some of the moody ballads on this collection, such as "Over Love," "Meaning of the Word," and "Spirit of Love," but there are so many of those successfully evocative cuts that the dance songs don't fit as seamlessly as they should. That's not to say the upbeat tracks are not in good shape: The lead single, "Shattered Glass" (produced by Stock, Aitken, Waterman, who produced successful Bananarama and Kylie Minogue singles in the same period), and "Angels Calling" stand out; you can hardly hold back from caroling along. Synthesizer-heavy throughout, on both the slow and fast songs, the strings on the yearning "Cry Wolf" near the end of the album are welcome. The lyrics on many of the cuts are poetic and adult, making this atmospheric collection the best product she'd released so far; the material is far better suited to her voice -- which has never sounded better -- than the Europop she recorded prior to this. "The Power of Love" exhibits the weight she can convey in a whisper, while also giving her something to really sink her teeth into. Her voice being her strongest asset, Branigan never received the direction Celine Dion did, so she never achieved the same massive success, though her voice is equal in terms of power, beauty, and distinction.

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