Alexander O'Neal, "Five Questions -- The New Journey"

78 Billboard Rating

Add Alexander O'Neal to the growing ranks of R&B vets making comeback albums. Now residing in Great Britain, the singer returns with his first album in eight years, "Five Questions-The New Journey." Overall, the project is grounded in the soulful funk and romance songs that define his successful career. Those tunes include "Fake," "Criticize" and his two radio perennials with Cherrelle ("Saturday Love" and "Never Knew Love Like This"). O'Neal shows off the still-formidable rough-and-ready vocals-think Otis Redding and David Ruffin-that powered those hits. The set opens with dance jams "My House" and "I'm Back," the latter recalling the rhythmic thrust of "Fake" and O'Neal's work with Minneapolis group Flyte Tyme, a precursor to '80s funk act the Time. Longtime fans will no doubt wax nostalgic, but the uptempos may not do much to attract younger converts. The singer proves he's still got the touch, however, on the midtempo love songs and ballads, notably "I Found True Love" and "I Can't Wait."