Dave DiMartino
June 14, 1991 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Warm Your Heart

Current Status
In Season
Aaron Neville
George Massenburg, Linda Ronstadt

We gave it an A-

While Aaron Neville’s soulful sensitivity is especially pronounced during the quietest passages of his songs, Linda Ronstadt has always seemed more comfortable bellowing into a microphone held a foot away from her face. Yet a blend of the two worked in the four duets they sang on Ronstadt’s recent Cry Like a Rainstorm — Howl Like the Wind, and now it works on Neville’s new album, Warm Your Heart, produced by Ronstadt and George Massenburg. Warm Your Heart mostly shies away from duets and lets Neville’s gorgeous voice fly unhampered. Any fears that his new collaboration with Ronstadt would result in smoothed-out middle-of-the-road glop — valid fears, given Ronstadt’s history — are dispelled by the result, a choice blend of grit and polish that simply oozes class. A superb rendition of John Hiatt’s ”It Feels Like Rain” sits comfortably beside a cover of the Main Ingredient’s ”Everybody Plays the Fool,” some doo-wop, and near-angelic renditions of ”I Bid You Good Night” and ”Ave Maria”; the effect, by no means a sonic mishmash, is compelling, almost hypnotic, and, in the breadth of its musical scope, uniquely American. And yes, there is one duet with Ronstadt, but if that’s all it takes to get a new Aaron Neville record — his last full-length album was released over 20 years ago — who in his right mind would ever complain? A-

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