Set the Night to Music

No one makes her own utterly mainstream taste in music work as well as Roberta Flack. She treats shallow love songs as art, redeeming them with her intensity and expressive voice. On Set the Night to Music, though, she sounds aloof and a bit tired. The album is full of perfectly executed big-stage pop, but the songs are relentlessly average and the arrangements hardly vary from track to track; Flack rarely gives us any of her lovely swoops and sobs. Only once on the album does Flack take a chance. She nervily tackles ”Unforgettable,” the Nat ”King” Cole hit that put his daughter Natalie atop the charts this summer. Flack’s version, sung with Mark Stevens (Chaka Khan’s brother), and backed with pinging R&B keyboards, is less a loving reverie than a chance for Flack to vamp impressively. It’s the one time on Set the Night that the singer wakes up. C+

Set the Night to Music
  • Music