A Woman & A Man

by: Belinda Carlisle

In a sense, Belinda Carlisle's A Woman & a Man is a companion record to her first solo album. It arrived in 1996, ten years after Belinda, and it also functioned as something of a break from the Go-Go's, as it was her first album after the group's mid-'90s reunion. That's not where the similarities end: the title track has some Motown propulsion, Charlotte Caffey comes in to co-write "Kneel at Your Feet," and instead of Tim, Carlisle covers Neil Finn. All these echoes are somewhat buried underneath the studio gloss created by producer David Tickle, a veneer that can get too thick on the ballads but nevertheless is often pleasingly expensive. This is a big-budget studio album from an era when they were common and, in retrospect, its overblown adult contemporary has its charms, as do the slightly uneven songs -- tunes that veer from the precision-tuned pop of Roxette's Per Gessle's "Always Breaking My Heart" and "Love Doesn't Live Here" to Finn's exquisitely sculpted "He Goes On." Perhaps the album could've used a dose of livelier material but Tickle's grand production suits the material and flatters Carlisle, two elements that turn A Woman & a Man into one of her better records. [Edsel's 2014 expansion of A Woman & a Man runs two CDs and a DVD. The first disc contains a remastered version of the proper album, supplemented by two acoustic versions ("In Too Deep," "Circle in the Sand"), while the second rounds up six B-sides and unreleased cuts, another six live tracks, and three remixes of "Remember September." The DVD has promo videos for the four singles: "In Too Deep," "Always Breaking My Heart," "Love in the Key of C," and "California."] ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

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