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Tresvant Could Come On Stronger : 1/2 RALPH TRESVANT “Ralph Tresvant"<i> MCA</i>

As the last member of New Edition to record a solo project, Tresvant--always the group’s resident heartthrob--must have felt a bellyfull of nerves when he decided to do this album. The results are respectable if a bit formulaic and unfocused, never really surpassing the monster he-man grooves of former groupmate Bobby Brown’s solo smashes, and too laid back to wallop the misogyny-with-a-backbeat hits of Bell Biv DeVoe.

Tresvant’s R&B; traditionalist style is most similar to that of New Edition’s Johnny Gill. Both of them are closer to the old-fashioned soul man approach of a Jackie Wilson or Otis Redding than they are to the new jack swing posture of their young contemporaries in black music.

While not as bold as Brown or adventurous as Bell Biv Devoe, Tresvant is not without his strong points. On “Stone Cold Gentleman” and the Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis-produced “Sensitivity,” he extends a near-irresistible invitation, presenting himself as a dreamy-eyed antidote to the heavy-handed women bashers of the world. Jam and Lewis produced one other radio-worthy track, “Rated R,” and against its rap-laced incendiary beat, Tresvant comes on stronger still. If only the rest of the album contained this much fire, freshness and new jack nerve.

Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor) to five (a classic).

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