Rick Lawson

Ladies Night

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The third solo album by Southern soul crooner Rick Lawson is every bit as enjoyable as his first two. Boasting one of the best voices of his generation of soul singers, Lawson mixes the wide-eyed enthusiasm of the Main Ingredient's Cuba Gooding (whom he particularly resembles when he's singing toward the top of his range) with the lover-man groove of a quiet storm mainstay like Freddie Jackson. Unfortunately, not all of the material on Ladies Night is worthy of his instrument. "I'm in a Steppin' Mood" has the elegant grace of a classic Spinners single, but the superfluous "Southern soul remix" tagged onto the end of this not particularly lengthy album makes it seem like Lawson's running low on ideas, and a few other songs sound like slightly strained rewrites of earlier material, particularly the party jam "Bottoms Up, Again!" and the (count 'em) three songs with the word "Party" in the title. When Lawson is working with genuinely good songs, he's outstanding, but Ladies Night is frustratingly uneven.

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