Randy VanWarmer

Beat of Love

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Randy VanWarmer's hit "Just When I Needed You Most" evoked the feel of sensitive singer/songwriters like Dan Hill and Dan Fogelberg so accurately, it almost sounded like a parody. This album's single couldn't have be much more of a departure from that; "Suzi Found a Weapon" is a thudding new wave rocker with percolating keyboards and a wonderfully sinister tremolo guitar hook. VanWarmer's bright, high-register voice even carries a hint of menace. It's a terrific opening track and one of those forgotten singles of the '80s that deserves to be better-known.

The rest of the album is the kind of upbeat, catchy pop VanWarmer seems to be able to write at will, although tracks like "Always Night" and "Babel/Don't Hide" have considerable gravity to their lyrics. Even at his poppiest, as on the bubbly "Amen," VanWarmer injects biting cynicism: "Give us your money/We will pray for you/Everybody say 'Amen'." Allusions to spirituality on several tracks suggest that it's as important to VanWarmer as romance, and that he's skeptical of either working out. Some of his best songs here have lyrics that suggest a disposition at odds with the music's sunniness. Along with his own songwriting, VanWarmer shows good taste in outside material. His version of McGuinness Flint's infectious "When I'm Dead and Gone" is, like much of the album, an upbeat number with bleak lyrics. While this isn't the music Randy VanWarmer's known for, The Beat of Love may be his best work.

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