A casualty of the late-‘90s label mergers, Vanessa Williams should have enjoyed a prosperous adult-pop vocal career a la Barbra Streisand, but has instead been relegated to Radio Shack commercials and paid advertisements for skincare products. Now, hot on the heels of last year’s The Millennium Collection: The Best of Vanessa Williams, part of Universal Music’s prestigious “20th Century Masters” series, Mercury Records has issued Love Songs, a compilation of Williams’s greatest odes to amour. Most notable are the disc’s previously unreleased tracks, a “late-night” remix of “The Way That You Love,” and a pair of Burt Bacharach and Hal David tunes, “Alfie” and “April Fools.” (The album’s other exclusive track, “Love Like This,” takes Williams’ signature smooth jazz into schmaltzy territory.) Album tracks like the sultry “And My Heart Goes” (the jazzy keyboards of which are, sadly, buried too low in the mix) and the Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis-produced “And If I Ever” certainly earn their spots next to hits like “Dreamin’” and “Save The Best For Last” (which is, not surprisingly, saved for last), but glaring omissions include “Love Is,” Williams’s hit ballad with Brian McKnight, and “The Sweetest Days,” which—though not a love song in the traditional sense—is one of Williams’s greatest moments. It’s unfortunate that Williams didn’t pursue the jazz-influenced R&B of The Sweetest Days or the baroque pop of Bacharach, as even her former label seems to finally be treating the dethroned beauty queen like the great interpretive vocalist that she is.
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