Prime Cuts: Turn off the Night, Beautiful Goodbye, Eyes on Me
Is there an air of 80s renaissance gushing in the wind? Sinead O'Connor, Starship, Judas Priest and now Richard Marx are all readying albums for iTunes to stock up at their store front. Marx indeed made an indelible mark on the pop front in the 80s. He was the first solo artist to have his first seven singles hit the top 5 on Billboard's Hot 100. Some of his ballads such as "Right Here Waiting" and "Now and Forever" have been soundtracks for countless weddings, anniversaries, graduations and funerals even to this day. And even though his popularity on the pop charts waned, Marx continued to expand his portfolio by becoming an uber songwriter. From N'Sync's "This I Promise You" to Barbra Streisand and Vince Gill's "If You Ever Leave Me" to his most recent Keith Urban hit "Long Hot Summer," Marx continues to leave his mark. Perhaps the most immortal song he has had even co-scribed is Luther Vandross' final #1 "Dance with My Father."
Amidst his busy scheduling writing and even producing (Marx has produced tracks for Emerson Drive, Vince Gill & Olivia Newton-John amongst others), Marx has been releasing his own albums on the side. "Beautiful Goodbye" is his 11th studio album and his 30th overall record. It's also his first non-seasonal record since 2008's "Sundown." Nevertheless, three of the songs on "Beautiful Goodbye," "Have a Little Faith," "Suddenly" and "To My Senses" are bound to both records dos-a-dos. "Beautiful Goodbye," which otherwise features 8 never released tracks, finds Marx co-writing with "The Voice's" Chris Mann, Vertical Horizon's Matt Scannell, Evanescence's David Hodges, Cuban TV host Daisy Fuentes, and superstar songwriter/producer Walter Afanasieff (Celine Dion, Whitney Houston & Ricky Martin).
Instead of chasing trends and competing with whippersnappers such as Ed Sheeran and Robin Thicke, Marx has stuck to what he does best. Just like many of his previous offerings, the songs here move in the friendlier landscape of adult contemporary where ballads are at the fore, which are also Marx's strongest forte. While the subject matter of these paeans either showcases Marx as a hopeless romantic or a man who thinks of romance as hopeless. In the latter category is "Turn off the Night." Here Marx displays his maturity as a writer as he delves deep into the complex emotions of a heartbroken man wishing he could turn off the night like a switch in his hand. On the other side of the visceral scale is "Beautiful Goodbye" which finds the protagonist trying to keep a distance from his hurts through Marx's purposeful stoic poise and the ballad's glassine Coldplay-styled keyboard riffs.
On love's more propitious side are the ballads "Like the World is Ending" and the lead single "Whatever We Started." Both songs deal with the sensory side of love with "Whatever We Started" showcasing that Marx still has the Midas touch of a songwriter half his age. While the "Eyes on Me" finds Marx in a jazzy lounge mood as he takes his time to tease out this love piece. On the other hand, not everything works: Marx's co-write with Afanasieff on "Getaway" is a breezy mid-pacer that sounds more like a Celine Dion reject. While "Have a Little Faith" is more on the non-descript side.
Nevertheless, despite the album's flaws, this is beautifully crafted ballad driven album that is organic in its sound. And most importantly, these songs fit Marx like a glove that he delivers them masterfully and comfortably.
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