Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Deniece Williams: This Is Niecy [Columbia/ARC, 1982]
Williams's exquisite clarity and thrilling range have always slotted her among the perfect angels for me, but there's a lot more to her work with Thom Bell, who finally challenges Burt Bacharach on his own turf, applying strings and woodwinds and amplifiers with a deft economy that textures rather than sweetens. And Williams's lyrics, while never startling, become increasingly personal as her professional confidence grows--she's wrinkling her brow more and her nose less. Dionne Warwick fans: welcome to the '80s. B+