As expected, Robert Lammís third solo CD, "In My Head" is an amalgam of musical styles just like "his" band, Chicago. Lamm incorporates ballads, jazz, pop, and rock elements on the ten cuts. Surprisingly he plays no keyboards on the CD at all. I was expecting him to cut loose with some keyboard wizardry as he is the piano guy in Chicago. Also there is no horns which was a trademark with Chicago. This leaves him the vocal duties, which he shares with the remarkable Phoebe Snow on two cuts and Carl Wilson on another.
Lamm has a pleasant, mellow vocal quality but not as gritty or soulful as he sounded on the first Chicago album. He seems at his best vocally when pushed by another serious vocalist like Snow. On the duet, "The Best Thing," Snow pushes Lamm into the most soulful vocal performance on the CD. Another vocal highlight of the CD is on the track "Will People Ever Change?" Without consciously trying, he sounds a lot like Alex Ligertwood (Brian Auger and Santana). To his credit Lamm wrote all but one song of ten on the CD. There is no song titled "In My Head" on the but itís obvious that Lamm has written some songs from the heart. Songs like the aforementioned "The Best Thing," "The Love of My Life," "Standing at Your Door," "Swept Away" and "The Love You Call Your Own," are love songs that you think about but donít put into melody. Luckily the lyrics are printed in the liner notes for those visual learners.
The production and musicianship are impeccable. Everything falls right into place, and the vocals are mixed up-front, where they belong. Although I was expecting a grittier, more soulful, keyboard-dominated disc from Lamm, I think itís a very pleasant 42 minute listening experience. Itís hard to separate Robert Lamm from Chicago and the Chicago sound. After all, on the first album it is clear that he was the leader and musical force of the band. If you like Chicago without the horns and sans Peter Cetera youíd like this CD. Never having heard Lammís previous solo efforts and expecting something other than what I heard, I still like this CD. I still think it should have been titled "In My Heart," that seems to be the place from where this music is coming.
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This review is copyright © 1999 by Putnay Thomas, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved.