Cheryl Pepsii Riley drags with Chapters black-radio pop into reality. Yes, she sticks to the tried-and-true themes of love and romance, but, refusing to play it safe, Riley also explores the sometimes difficult side of relationships, the hurt and indecision when fairy tales don’t come true. In her 1988 debut hit, ”Thanks for My Child,” she gave us the voice of a single mother coming to terms with the man who abandoned her. Now her second solo effort’s lead single, ”How Can You Hurt the One You Love,” has her stepping into the shoes of a battered wife or girlfriend, urging abused women to say no to ”physical and mental pain.” Elsewhere, her gentle voice praises the man in her life for being an ”Unbelievable Lover” and her family simply for being there. Unfortunately, the album’s smooth, synthesizer-laden sound (created by the six-man writing and production team Full Force, who have also worked with James Brown and Samantha Fox) cannot match the honesty of her lyrics. But Riley still manages to touch on real emotions. B

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