Given her history as a quick study, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that Debbie Gibson’s third record, Anything Is Possible, is a more polished work than her vibrant debut, Out of the Blue, or her brasher follow-up, Electric Youth. What she’s lost in raw teen energy she’s gained in musical assurance, and a little bit of help from Motown songwriter Lamont Dozier (who collaborated on hits for, among others, the Supremes, Smokey Robinson, and Marvin Gaye) sure hasn’t hurt. Gibson doesn’t seem to have been influenced much by big-selling modern rock bands like U2, Bon Jovi, or the Cure; nor is she a big R&B fan, like her rival/peer Tiffany. But she does draw on sources that are nearer to the hearts of her generation than to those of her avowed musical heroes, Elton John and Billy Joel. She has a full command of synth-driven, forget-yourself-on-the-dance-floor idiom, for instance, and in a couple of numbers even dips into a white-bread form of New Kids-like rap.
Anything Is Possible doesn’t have a single as infectiously Madonna-esque as Gibson’s 1987 hit ”Shake Your Love.” But the high-energy title cut (or ”hi N-R-G,” as Gibson enthusiastically labels it in the lyric sheet) and the equally positive ”Another Brick Falls” come close, while the buoyant ”One Step Ahead,” with its chorus of ”Don’t calm down/bring the energy up,” is made to order for aerobics classes nationwide.
Still, Gibson’s talents are far more imitative than innovative. And since her musical inspirations are the least challenging pop tunesmiths, the result is music that has more conviction — Gibson is nothing if not earnest — than depth; Gibson believes implicitly in the power of positive thinking. But beyond a bouncy injunction against ”negative N-R-G” and advice like ”when life really kicks/learn to catch those falling bricks!” her opinions aren’t earthshaking. That’s especially true on the ballads — all lassoed together on what she calls ”the mood swing” half of the album — where lyrics like ”the only police are in your mind” and ”I put all the bad things like money far lower on the list than pride” come off as preachy. Clearly Gibson means well; her advice just isn’t very meaningful. But if she gets a little more emotional experience, a little more insight about life and how to live it — and a slightly bigger record collection — anything really may be possible. B