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POP MUSIC REVIEWS : Murray Takes a Walk on the Sweet Side

In an interview years ago, Frank Sinatra dubbed them “the sweet singers"--women, like Karen Carpenter, Doris Day and Olivia Newton-John, with sweet voices who sing romantic pop songs with sweet melodies.

For the last decade or so, the queen of the sweet singers has been Anne Murray, who appeared in the round at the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts on Friday.

Murray, who’s been recording since the late ‘60s, has a stockpile of pop and country songs boasting sweet melodies--among them “Snowbird,” “You Needed Me” and “Broken Hearted Me.” With her slightly brawny, incredibly sweet-toned voice, Murray slices away any hard edges or dark undercurrents lurking in her ballads. What’s left is invariably wholesome and uplifting.

Murray, who was accompanied by seven musicians and a backup singer, is strictly a ballad singer--and she knows it. She wisely steered clear of any gritty songs and rarely resorted to up-tempo tunes. She sang songs from her latest album of oldies, “Croonin’ ” without putting a new spin on any of them.

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Murray’s show, the first of three nights at Cerritos, was vulnerable to charges that it offered little variety and was neither creative nor challenging. Though guilty on all counts, it was still rather entertaining. Chalk it up to the infectious whimsy of her droll humor and the relentless charm of some of those sweet-as-honey songs.


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