I Refuse to Be Lonely was released five months after Phyllis Hyman's terrible suicide, and it is virtually impossible to listen to this album without realizing that many of these songs more than faintly hint at the tragedy that was brewing. This immaculately produced set begins with her self-affirming, yet ultimately tragic ballad "I Refuse to Be Lonely," which finds Hyman basically crying the lyric. Not all the songs on this set are so maudlin, however. "I Refuse to Be Lonely" is followed by the jazzy "Waiting for the Last Tear to Fall" and the dramatic and impressive "This Too Shall Pass," which finds Hyman convincing herself that her troubles will soon be over, set against a backdrop of heavy percussion and soaring backing vocals. Hyman gets jazzy on "It Takes Two" and provides a sophisticated quiet storm ballad with "Why Not Me." Hyman also sounds sexy and less depressed on the piano ballad "I'm Truly Yours" and the happier, jazzy "Back to Paradise," which still keeps with the troubling prophetic nature of the album with the repeated lyric "I've been waiting here at the gates of heaven." All of this is only heightened by the last song, prophetically titled "Give Me One Good Reason to Stay," where Hyman sings "It's true I'm leaving/My bags are at the door." Phyllis Hyman, despite all her troubles, managed to leave the world another wonderful set of classy, sophisticated quiet storm jazz ballads with I Refuse to Be Lonely, augmented by her one-of-a-kind, brutally raw and honest voice. Nancy Wilson, in the liner notes, laments Hyman's passing and also ponders at the marvels she would have produced had she chosen to record the songs of Cole Porter or George Gershwin. This album, however, only hints at the wonders which, sadly, the world will never know.
I Refuse to Be Lonely Review
by Jose F. Promis