My Own Best Enemy arrives in the midst of Richard Marx's thriving career as a producer and songwriter, and in particular his Song of the Year Grammy with Luther Vandross for "Dance With My Father." You'd think these successes would sour him on another solo outing, especially since 1997's Flesh & Bone and the 2000 self-released LP Days in Avalon didn't exactly ignite soft rock radio. The opposite, however, seems to be true. Working comfortably within the adult pop realm (instead of grudgingly accepting the genre as his fate), Marx puts forth a solid effort tinged not only with engagingly modern production and arrangements, but subtle personal reflections and just a little bit of that "Don't Mean Nothin'" grit. "When You're Gone" is the single, reintroducing Marx's grainy smooth voice over a slick yet rousing backing track helped along by the guitar and supporting vocals of pal Keith Urban. The Nashville connection continues with "Love Goes On" -- Jessica Andrews contributes chorus harmonies, and the nicely appointed cut's a steel guitar overdub away from contemporary country hit status. Later, "Someone Special" acts on that Music City pacing and steel guitar urge; it's essentially a Lonestar song sung by Marx. My Own Best Enemy does stick a little too closely to its slick formula, and the lush production smooths its edges. But Marx keeps reaching deep into his vocal chords and pulling out that legitimizing scratchiness he's always relied on. The midtempo sameness of Enemy also highlights Marx's slower material and his talent for deftly altering the mood. The quiet, simply romantic "Again" features some really nice flourishes of watery, echoing guitar, while slight electronic percussion patters in the background of "The Other Side"'s bruised-heart urgency. The two songs are emotional opposites, yet they never stray from an easily digestible adult pop sound. It takes true talent to sound genuine over what could've been maudlin.
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AllMusic Review by Johnny Loftus