As the '80s drew to a close, Todd Rundgren turned over a new leaf and began recording for Warner Bros. Not long after the release of his first Warner album A Cappella, he disbanded Utopia, choosing to embark on a few years as a producer and session man. He finally returned with Nearly Human, his first album of new material in four years, in the summer of 1989. During his hiatus as a recording artist, Rundgren became fascinated with recording live music, deciding to record Nearly Human live in the studio -- not nearly as flamboyant as A Cappella, but a gimmick nonetheless. If anything, the live-in-the-studio trick works better than the all-vocal track, not only because it's easier to execute, but because the production style complements the soul-inflected songs. Song for song, Nearly Human is his best record since The Hermit of Mink Hollow, since not only is the bulk of the album filled with charging blue-eyed soul like "The Want of a Nail" or sweet ballads like "Parallel Lines," but because there are no novelties, and the cover choice (Elvis Costello's "Two Little Hitlers") is fresh and surprising. At times, his eccentricities get the best of him, as he overstuffs his arrangements or lyrics with unnecessary details, but these are minor points -- Nearly Human finds Rundgren at the top of his game as a performer, producer, and songwriter, sustaining his momentum in a way he hadn't for nearly a full decade.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine