Staying Power

by: Barry White

By the late '90s, Barry White was primarily known as an icon. His music was well-known, but his voice was known better, as it stood for the epitome of sultry, sexy soul. And, befitting his icon status, he could still support a large audience in concerts, which led to new recordings -- recordings that were minor hits upon their release, but never eclipsing his classic hits. Staying Power, his first album since 1994's The Icon Is Love, fits neatly into that category. It certainly is an enjoyable album, since White's voice is aging remarkably well and the production is uniformly appealing, but it's never a memorable one. Like most contemporary albums by veterans, it's littered with cameos that are designed to broaden his audience and increase chances of airplay. With the exception of the Bone Thugs N Harmony duet "Thank You" -- which is the worst track on the album -- they all work pretty well, and the Chaka Khan & Lisa Stansfield showcase "The Longer We Make Love" is very good indeed. However, the record sounds the best when the spotlight is on White. Nevertheless, once the album is completed, it's hard to remember any of it, even if it was enjoyable as it spun. Which means Staying Power is a standard-issue iconic release -- it's classy and entertaining, but doesn't add to the legacy. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

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