A sequel of sorts to Richard Barone's masterful solo debut, 1987's Cool Blue Halo, 1997's Between Heaven & Cello finds the Hoboken-based singer/songwriter returning to the stripped-down live format of that album. Recorded live at the intimate New York club Fez, Between Heaven & Cello finds Barone on guitar and piano, backed by cellists Jane Scarpantoni (who had appeared on Cool Blue Halo) and Lisa Hanley. This time around, Barone focuses on material from 1990's Primal Dream and 1994's Clouds Over Eden, and the songs benefit greatly from the dreamy, chamber pop textures given by this new musical setting. The Primal Dream material in particular sounds brand new in these new arrangements; that album had suffered terribly from its too-slick '80s-style production, but on Between Heaven & Cello, songs like "Something Happens" and "To the Pure" have a new depth and complexity. For the faithful, Barone also trots out a remarkable reinvention of the Bongos' new wave classic "Barbarella" and a pair of songs from Cool Blue Halo, "Tangled in Your Web" and his signature song "Numbers With Wings," that are nearly up to the quality of their earlier versions.
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AllMusic Review by Stewart Mason