Marva Hicks

Marva Hicks

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Suffering from somewhat formulaic adult contemporary R&B tunes, Marva Hicks' full-length debut doesn't quite do justice to the singer's wonderfully strong and vibrant pipes. The predominantly ballad-laden set contains a number of tunes ("Searchin' for the Love" and "Life Without You," for example) which have their melodic highlights, but don't sustain the momentum. A total of eight producers don't necessarily fix the problem, either, with results ranging from Tony Prendatt and Loris Holland's languid style on "Never Say Never" to the rich, colorful approach of Jimmy Scott on the set's Top Ten R&B single "Never Been in Love Before." Scott doesn't quite follow through on his other writing and production contribution, "In Love With Love," which is a second-tier version of the former. Stevie Wonder -- with whom Hicks toured as a backing vocalist during the '80s -- contributes a memorable tune and vocal duet in the evocative "Strong Is Our Love," with a surprisingly understated arrangement. And Hicks gets funky and sassy on the spiffy mid-tempo groove of "I Got You Where I Want." Throughout the bumps in the road, Hicks' impressive resonance, clarity, and power hold their ground and make the set's peak moments well worth the wait.

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