May 25, 1987 12:00 PM

Jody Watley

Watley was a founding member of Shalamar and is an accomplished pop-funk singer. Still, the success of this album and the single Looking for a New Love are baffling. The songs, arrangements and performances are routine, with none of the surges or quirky turns that make music in this genre distinctive. The otherwise unexceptional Looking for a New Love features a sort of Janet Jackson tough-girl dramatic verse, and Learn to Say No is perked up by a duet from that honorary soulmate George Michael. Most of the tracks, however, are dreary. For instance, Love Injection: “I need a love injection/ A bit of your affection/ Love injection/ Won’t you give it to me.” Watley grew up in Chicago and Los Angeles in a musical family. Her dad was an evangelist, her mother a singer-piano player, and among her parents’ friends were Joe Tex, Sam Cooke and Jackie Wilson, who became Jody’s godfather. So she has the background, as well as the obvious instincts, to make distinctive music. Howard Hewett had already set a precedent for spinning out of Shalamar into a solo career. The danger now would seem to be that the commercial triumph of this LP could make Watley settle for mediocrity. (MCA)

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