Wrong. Armatrading has always chosen the personal over the political. It's an approach that has worked for 30 years, and she is not going to stray from it now. She has finally outgrown her desire to overuse the techno-pop sound that marred some of her albums from the late '80s and early '90s. Here, her sound is rich and full, and her imagery is as gorgeous as ever. While many of her lyrics on the printed page may look like so many cliches strung together (or, in the case of "Prove Yourself" pabulum the likes of which Up With People would sing), once she adds her honeyed alto vocals and her gentle guitar, they feel sincere, as if she were the first person to ever experience love or rejection.
-- Al Kaufman
Joan Armatrading plays the Atlanta Botanical Garden Wed., June 4.