January 31, 2005 12:00 PM



It was clear that Stephanie Mills was born for singing when, 30 years ago, the little lady with the big voice first starred as Dorothy in the original Broadway production of The Wiz. On this, her first disc since 1995’s gospel outing Personal Inspirations, Mills has finally found her way back home to recording. And it’s good to hear her again. Still possessing those showstopping pipes, Mills, 47, doesn’t try to act half her age by hooking up with 50 Cent or attempting to shake booties with the Ciaras of the world. Instead she delivers a sophisticated set of slow to midtempo R&B that will make grown-ups feel good all over. Mills puts an old-school spirit into gospel-tinged numbers such as “Can’t Let Him Go” and “Healing Time” that would have played just as well in 1985 as 2005. Occasionally things feel a little too déjé vu: “Never Knew Love” retreads the romantic theme of Mills’s similarly titled 1980 gem “Never Knew Love Like This Before,” and the CD includes an unnecessary remake of the singer’s own 1989 hit “Something in the Way (You Make Me Feel).” But when it belts the BeBe Winans-written title track, there is no doubt that Mills has been reborn.

DOWNLOAD THIS: “Healing Time”

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