Paul Anka

A Body of Work

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Given the most confusing title for an album of newly recorded material since John Prine's The Missing Years, Paul Anka's A Body of Work, despite a name that makes it sound like a compilation, is actually the singer/songwriter's first new U.S. release since Walk a Fine Line in 1983. Following the international success of 1996's Spanish-language duets album Amigos, Anka tries a little of everything in an attempt to regain a foothold at home. There are newly written songs, notably the unabashedly devotional adult love ballad "She's My Woman, She's My Friend" that opens the record. There are celebrity guest stars -- Celine Dion, Tevin Campbell, Kenny G, Barry Gibb, Patti LaBelle, and Peter Cetera turn up to one extent or another. And there are remakes of hits penned by Anka with the singers who made them famous: he duets with a living Tom Jones on "She's a Lady" and with a 1968 tape of Frank Sinatra on "My Way." For this high-profile effort, Anka has called in both adult contemporary king David Foster and Sony Music's Walter Afanasieff (Michael Bolton, Mariah Carey) as producers, though their efforts are relatively restrained. In fact, despite the celebrity firepower, the whole album is really a set of low-key ballads that Anka sings emotionally, whether the mood is happy or sad. It's a respectable return-to-action for a veteran who remains vital, even if it was not a commercial return-to-form.

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