Wet Wet Wet had a difficult task in following the success of their debut Popped In Souled Out, eventually returning with Holding Back the River. While not a major departure from the style that saw Popped In become a British chart-topper, it did see the band stepping away from soul and venturing more into pure pop territory. By and large this new approach works. Holding Back the River is a collection of pleasant, melodic, somewhat lightweight pop songs topped by Marti Pellow's charismatic vocal delivery. Two of the best tracks here are the pop gems "Sweet Surrender" and "Can't Stand the Night" (the latter was renamed "Stay with Me Heartache" when released as a single). There are some weak points, though, most of which arise because Pellow's voice is not suited to some of these songs. While "Maggie May" remains faithful to the original version, Wet Wet Wet lack the emotion that Rod Stewart was able to give the song, and Pellow is completely lost on the otherwise enjoyable blues of "Hold Back the River." A good album, but not one of their more essential recordings.
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AllMusic Review by Jonathan Lewis