Tommy Page

Loving You

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Loving You does not make a big impact on first listen. Much of it sounds like background music and makes one wonder why Tommy Page made such a splashy transition on 1994's Time only to fall back into a conservative approach. There is, however, a magic to be found in subtlety, and Page weaves this album together so simplistically, so beautifully, yet with so many hidden charms and deeper meanings, that it takes a lot of listening to take it all in. With this album, Page proves a master at his craft. The album begins and ends with Stephen Sondheim's "Loving You" from the play Passion, which was a good idea for at least two reasons. First, this album has the feel of a Broadway performance in that the songs all blend together like a puzzle. Many pop albums are thrown together with songs that have little relation to each other besides the voice singing them. All of the songs here are based on a singular theme, with a similar style and tone (which is balanced between melancholy and hopeful). They don't sound like songs written by an array of songwriters and producers -- each one seems to piece the whole together, to tell a part of the story. Second, Passion is about a woman who loved a man but felt ugly and unworthy of his love. Page's Loving You is an album of pain and need. It is not the teenage angst that is found on so many other pop albums. There is still pain to be found here, heartache that could sound cliché, but Page has added sincerity. His vocals have never been noticeably masculine or gripping, but they are soothing and honest. The lyrics are more spiritual than his past efforts and more universal. There is a focus on the overall need of being wanted and loved. On the song "I See Your Smile" he sings about losing hope and reaching out -- it could be about the loss of a mother or father, a prayer to God, a friend, anyone. On "Fly Again" he sings about shaking off a blind past and "coming home" to share his love with those who love him. He parallels love with air and allows us to interpret what love he is referring to on "Like Air." He sings a slower, moving version of Waite/Sanford/Leonard's "Missing You" and takes on a cover of Cyndi Lauper's "That's What I Think," which is the only song that teeters on the wild side and would have been better suited for Time. Though Loving You is by no means a depressing album, it is intensely focused on the loss of love and the need to regain a sense of self. Whatever pain Page might have experienced, he transformed it into something very special -- a terrifically produced, wonderfully sung pop album. It is a therapeutic one as well that grows more meaningful with every listen.

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