Only Human

Jeffrey Osborne’s voice is so silky and warm that he can anchor a varied collection of songs — ranging from the up-tempo ”If My Brother’s in Trouble,” which proclaims his familial loyalty, to the more personal, blustery ”Only Human,” a lover’s plea for patience. For any other singer, such an eclectic mix of musical styles like in Only Human, might seem like a desperate, unfocused grab for pop-chart success. But for Osborne it’s merely a reflection of a 20-year-long career that has dominated both black and pop radio — first with the R&B group L.T.D. through most of the ’70s and then with his Top 40 solo career in the ’80s. For all his forays into many musical genres, Osborne seems most at home, as he always has, in the ballads, where the drum machines don’t crowd his voice. In ”Nitetime” he describes his end-of-the-day reunions with his lover as an almost religious deliverance from a tedious 9-to-5 world. But just when you start thinking that he finds his chief inspiration in the sentimentality of Hallmark cards, Osborne’s vocals grab your attention, aching with need and joy. His believable singing saves him from sounding trite. A-

Only Human
  • Movie
  • 85 minutes