Patti LaBelle knows her limitations to the millimeter. That knowledge has made her an uncompromising crowd pleaser, comfortable with her faintly kitschy reputation as a glam-disco diva and careful not to push the boundaries of her harsh nasal voice. Most of her new album Burnin‘s material displays LaBelle’s show-biz-soul wailing and emoting to perfection, whether she’s up on her feet (for ”Feels Like Another One”) or languishing on the divan (in ”Somebody Loves You Baby”). Except for the sloppily sentimental ”I Don’t Do Duets,” cowritten by Marvin Hamlisch, LaBelle rises to the challenge of the material here. Her performance stomps all over the poker-faced Michael Bolton’s on their sappy duet ”We’re Not Makin’ Love Anymore,” and she roars out, tough and impassioned, on ”I Hear Your Voice,” cowritten by one ”Paisley Park.” Burnin’ is smart and resourceful-though a Patti LaBelle album completely written by Mr. Park might have been a revelation. B+

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