RELEASE
December 28, 1997
LABEL
BMG International

Album Review

Can't Stop Dreaming has a rather tangled release history. It was originally issued in Japan in 1997 on the BMG International label, and in 2003 it appeared in America but missing two tracks. Anyway, as those who witnessed the resurgence of Hall & Oates will attest, Hall has never sounded better. His vocal range is all that it once was and more. He is still, along with his main collaborator, Alan Gorrie from the Average White Band, a talented pop songwriter -- though admittedly pop music itself has changed by its very nature in the early 21st century. Pop itself no longer has a space for what is timeless and dateless. Hall's smooth hooks, tight love songs, and crisp arrangements are timeless but not timely and that's far from his fault. Tracks such as "Cab Driver," with its sheeny Steely Dan feel, and the Marvin Gaye/Leon Ware-inspired "Let Me Be the One" are classic in virtually every way, especially vocally. Hall doesn't reach for notes at all anymore, they just come, flowing up from the pit of his belly like a river expressing itself as a waterfall of intonation and melodic invention most jazz singers would give their eye teeth for. Only Al Green is Hall's equal in the contemporary soul genre. His disciplined singing graces the deep, mysterious funk of "Never Let Me Go," with its roiling basslines, and the spare acoustic ballad "Holding Out for Love." The big surprise is in the remake of the Hall & Oates classic "She's Gone" near the end of the album with a thoroughly (post)modern arrangement with a subtle drum loop. If ever a song didn't need to be recut, this is it. It was perfect the first time around. That said, Hall's new read of the tune as an older man singing his grief -- in higher pitch -- is as authentic and spine-tingling as the original. While the backing vocals lack a little of the deep soul the duo's version had, the smooth gospel flavor inherent in them and restrained exuberance of Hall's delivery make the song a much more reflective and sorrowful expression, and it's dynamite. The slick, mat black and chrome disco surfaces of "All by Myself" and "Fools Rush In" have Hall revealing that there is still plenty of life in that form of songwriting and recording. With all the guitars careening over a babbling-brook bassline and Hall punctuating each bar with his vocal acrobatics, these songs become dancefloor necessities. In sum, Can't Stop Dreaming works as an album for listening or dancing too. It also works on another, much more intimate level.
Thom Jurek, Rovi

Track Listing

  1. Can't Stop Dreaming
  2. Let Me Be the One
  3. Something About You
  4. Cab Driver
  5. Never Let Me Go
  6. Holding Out for Love
  7. Justify
  8. What's in Your World
  9. Hold on to Me
  10. She's Gone
  11. All by Myself
  12. Fools Rush In