For a band so innocuous, '90s MOR duo the Lighthouse Family didn't stir up contrasting emotions merely halfway. While their easy listening brand of breezy soul-pop became many people's idea of the perfect soundtrack for dinner parties, hazy summer days, and post-work unwinding, to others their inoffensive sound was seen as music for people who don't like music. Coming just a year after their split (following 2001's under-performing Whatever Gets You Through the Day), Nigerian-born lead singer Tunde Baiyewu, therefore, faces a pretty tough task if he's to win the latter around with his self-titled solo debut album. Perhaps caught with two minds about whether to keep his old fan base on board or to experiment with his newfound freedom, the velvet-smooth baritone has attempted to do both on 11 tracks that serve as a neat gap-bridger between his Radio 2-friendly glory days and his slightly more adventurous solo career. With Lighthouse Family producer Mike Peden on board, Tunde is still drenched in the summery acoustics that helped sell two million copies of Ocean Drive, such as the uplifting lead single, "Great Romantic," the rousing gospel-fused "Miles Ahead of Me," and the Craig David-esque R&B of "Shouldn't Be Like This (According to Fairness)." But while there's nothing here that will particularly upset the apple cart, there are occasions when Tunde attempts to silence the critics who labeled the Family as a one-trick pony. "Letting Me Down Gently" is a gorgeous slice of subtle bossa nova featuring the ethereal vocals of U.S. singer/songwriter Catherine Feeny and "Anaesthetic" is an emotive six-minute epic whose lilting pianos, sweeping strings, and ambient bleeps perfectly complement his rare falsetto vocal, while there are also convincing forays into country-pop ("Passing the Hours"), flamenco-tinged nu-soul ("Cover Me"), and even Coldplay-inspired stadium rock ("I Can't Make the World Disappear"). Tunde's tentative steps into unchartered waters show that he's not entirely comfortable with leaving his trademark Zen-like calm behind just yet, but there's enough promise here to suggest that his naysayers may jump on board in the future.
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AllMusic Review by Jon O'Brien