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posted: 10/18/2012 6:00 AM

Heather Headley loses thrill on 4th album

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  • Heather Headley's "Only One in the World"

      Heather Headley's "Only One in the World"

 
Associated Press

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 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." 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.

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

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