One Heartbeat

One Heartbeat

The ‘80s wrought irrevocable changes on the landscape of R&B, but Smokey Robinson’s songwriting gift remained undiminished. He proved the timelessness of his art with “Just to See Her” and “One Heartbeat,” two hits from his 1987 LP One Heartbeat. Even though the songs were written by hired professionals and feature production that has since become dated, they tap into everything people love about Smokey’s classic ‘60s hits. He can be easygoing without sacrificing sincerity, and he can be vulnerable without resorting to sentimentality. As usual, he makes the most of his production tools, especially on the tense, brooding “What’s Too Much” and “Love Don’t Give No Reason,” which puts Smokey’s crystal falsetto against a dense, moody backdrop of electronic programming. At a time when many artists were delivering songs that were harsh and overwrought, Smokey manages to be modern without losing his understated demeanor. Despite the complexity of the technology, the singer’s simplicity—both in content and tone—comes through, particularly on “Why Do Happy Memories Hurt So Bad” and “Keep Me.”

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