The Bliss of Affection
Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann, who know a thing or two about good songs, did pop music a favor when they helped Robb Boldt land a record contract. Weil and Mann, who wrote "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" and other hits in the 1960s, were so impressed by Boldt that they became his managers. They've apparently given good guidance, because "The Bliss of Affection" is an impressive debut. A 26-year-old native of Buffalo, N.Y., Boldt wrote five songs for Paula Abdul's "Head Over Heels" album. Working mostly with guitarist Simeon Spiegel, Boldt co-wrote all 14 tunes on "The Bliss of Affection," a collection of love songs dressed up with catchy melodies, rhythm and blues cadences, layered vocals and state-of-the-art production. There's nothing here as frothy as Abdul's music, although the ballad "I'm So Into You" is reminiscent of Boyz II Men. Boldt deploys tasteful strings on some tunes and a funky groove on others, and with such lyrics as "Nice dress you were almost wearing," the result is similar to Prince's more radio-ready efforts. Boldt sings about losing -- and finding -- that lovin' feelin', and it sounds good.
Here's a clue to how important soundtracks are these days: The accompanying soundtrack to the upcoming Eddie Murphy film "Life" is out a month before the film hits the theaters. As a promotion tool, the album should give the film a boost, thanks to supersinger/producer R. Kelly. Kelly, who either had a hand in writing or producing a majority of the album's tracks, has a knack for creating hooks that just grab you and won't let go. His collaboration with Maxwell on "Fortunate" is an incredibly sexy slow jam that perfectly blends Kelly's sensuous rhythms with Maxwell's enticing voice. Then there's the Isley Brothers' "Speechless," in which Ron Isley proves he can just speak gibberish and it will still sound good (the song's main refrain is that oft-repeated Ron Isley phrase, "la-di-da-da," whatever that means). And on "It's Gonna Rain," Kelly Price once again sings about a troubled relationship with heart-wrenching soul. Still, there are some painful spots that pop up every now and then, like "What Goes Around," a Wyclef Jean production featuring Khadejia and Marie Antoinette. The worst song is the sappy "Follow the Wind," sung by Trisha Yearwood and sadly, written by Kelly. It's one of those generic ballads that's destined to be a staple for the dentist's office.