Dina Carroll's debut album, So Close, was the dream of her record company, A&M, the type of album that had an instant impact, a very slow fade in the charts, and a second wind more than a year after release. The singer had come to public notice as a guest vocalist on the Quartz remake of Carole King's "It's Too Late," and after her solo dance hit "Ain't No Man," she was invited to New York by Robert Clivillés and David Cole from the C+C Music Factory to produce her album. With two further singles released during 1992, "Special Kind of Love" and "So Close," both of which hit the Top 20, the album was finally ready in January 1993 and entered the charts at number two. It spent the next six months inside the Top 20 and became the must-have coffee-table album of the year, a smooth soft jazz-pop collection of beautiful songs, delightfully sung over a sophisticated full orchestral backing. Throughout 1993, yet another two tracks were released as singles, the ballad "This Time" and an electronic dance song, "Express," and although both were reasonably sized hits, they failed to connect with the mainstream. This all changed with the release of the sixth track as a single. "Don't Be a Stranger" was recorded with an even lusher string section and soared to number three, bringing the album back up to the Top Five during Christmas week and becoming the fourth best-seller during 1993. So Close spent the first three months of 1994 inside the Top 20, including three weeks at number two, as Dina Carroll hit the singles chart in a big way again with the non-album track version of Andrew Lloyd Webber's "The Perfect Year" from Sunset Boulevard. This was a classy album that fully deserved its massive success in the mid-'90s.
So Close Review
by Sharon Mawer