Seemingly more than artists of any other era, performers who came into prominence during the '80s are having a difficult time finding credible footing in the current musical landscape.

Seemingly more than artists of any other era, performers who came into prominence during the '80s are having a difficult time finding credible footing in the current musical landscape. It's hard to discern the reason why, other than the immeasurable camp associated with the decade. To that end, the fact that Jody Watley (perhaps best-known for the Janet Jackson-esque "Looking for a New Love") has emerged with a refreshing, mature set is all the more startling—and exciting. Teamed with such producers as Rodney Lee, King Britt, Dave Warrin, and Masters at Work, among others, Watley has crafted tunes that deftly blend dreamy jazz elements with old-school funk and state-of-the-streets dance music. All the while, she infuses her arrangements with taut melodies and refrains that permanently stick to the brain upon impact. Icing on the cake is Watley's evolution into a convincingly soulful chanteuse who is now capable of bringing worldly depth to the most simple words. In all, Midnight Lounge transforms Watley from a nostalgia artist into a timely, commercially viable performer. Not to be missed.—LF