By calling this comeback album Missing You, veteran soul balladeer Peabo Bryson turns the tables on those who, he hopes, have been missing him. His 20th album, it is his first non-holiday studio recording of new material in eight years, since Private Music took Unconditional Love to number 75 in Billboard's R&B chart in 1999. The 56-year-old has not been inactive by any means since then, but he has not interested the major labels, which moved on to younger, hipper lovermen. The first question with a new album for such a performer is to what extent he may have felt it necessary to accommodate himself to new styles, but that question is to some extent answered in advance by noting that he chose to align himself with Peak Records, a label known for smooth jazz. Missing You is not without its contemporary touches, notably in the computer-generated rhythm tracks. But Bryson is not really out to compete with Usher and R. Kelly for the hearts of teenagers here. There are no guest rappers, and the hip-hop elements are kept to a minimum; Missing You is an album intended primarily for Bryson's existing fan base and secondarily for smooth jazz fans. Presumably, there are quite a few of the former who will recall the 45 songs Bryson placed in the R&B singles charts between 1976 and 1993. They are likely to revel in the familiar combination of proclamations of undying love like "Count on Me" and "I Promise I Do" and laments of lost love like "Missing You" and "Don't Make Me Cry." Smooth jazz fans, meanwhile, will welcome the guest appearances by Boney James ("Don't Make Me Cry"), Norman Brown ("10,000 Reasons"), and Paul Taylor (a cover of Angela Bofill's "I Try"). Other notable instrumentalists are producer Barry J. Eastmond, who plays piano on the title song, and Bryson himself, who handles a lead acoustic guitar part on "To Love About." This is material the singer will have no problem integrating into a stage act dominated by his greatest hits, and it should be welcomed by those who enjoyed his earlier work. It may have been a long time between albums, but musically Bryson acts as though no time at all has passed.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann