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Music review: Heather Headley fails to make songs her own on new album

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press
Thursday, October 11, 2012 - 10:25 am

Heather Headley, "Only One in the World"

(in:ciite Media)

Heather Headley, who is gearing up to star in "The Bodyguard: A New Musical" in London next month, has one of those soaring voices that reverberates in a theater and smolders on a record.

Then again, so do a lot of R&B singers. What has helped Headley, who spent her youth in Fort Wayne, distinguish herself in her recording career has been her material - well-crafted tunes with smart, mature lyrics that she made her own.

They are largely absent on her fourth album, "Only One in the World." Part of the problem is that Headley decides to take on songs that others have made famous.

While she still has an amazing voice with great range, somehow when singing songs like "Home" and "River Deep Mountain High," she sounds more like a really great karaoke singer. Headley doesn't put her stamp on any of them and leaves the listener wistfully thinking of the songs' original performers.

Nowhere is that more true than with her version of "Run to You," which Whitney Houston made famous in the movie "The Bodyguard." Headley simply proves that no one sang a song like the late superstar.

While Headley does have original material (that she also had a hand in writing), most of it isn't as strong or compelling as her R&B hits "I Wish I Wasn't" and "In My Mind."

However, Headley and "The Voice" contestant Chris Mann are perfectly matched on the tender "Because You Need Me," written by the duo.

Headley, who has won both a Tony and a Grammy Award, is a wonderful singer who has previously produced wonderful work - but there's no wonderment here.