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Pipes better than the songs

I Want You to Love Me
I Want You to Love Me
By Francine Reed

Ichiban International: 1995

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This review first appeared in the March 31, 1995 issue of the North County Blade-Citizen (now North County Times).

Francine Reed is a powerhouse blues singer/shouter who needs no amplification. She has spent the last few years kicking around the Atlanta club scene and backing singer Lyle Lovett, honing her skills and waiting for a chance to step out front.

On her debut as a featured artist, Reed shows both incredible vocal range and power, as well as timing that never misses. Her smooth alto voice bears a striking resemblance to that of Robert Cray, as does the uptempo brand of contemporary blues that she sings.

The material presented on "I Want You to Love Me" isn't quite as good as Reed's singing, though. The best song is a duet Lovett wrote for her and joins her on, "Why I Don't Know." It's a hook-laden R&B number reminiscent of B.B. King's better material in the 1960s.

Reed doesn't write her own songs, and the rest of the album contains a solid if unremarkable collection of covers ranging from Muddy Waters' "I Want You to Love Me" to Ida Cox's "Wild Women (Don't Get the Blues)."

If the songs aren't always the most interesting, Reed's performance is consistently striking. Each song receives a personalized treatment, showing different facets even of old chestnuts like "Trouble in Mind."