Dance With My Father

Luther Vandross is justly celebrated as a singer's singer. He reinterprets pop and R&B classics masterfully, and his detailed lyrics give his own sleek ballads a lived-in presence, as if Luther was right there on the couch with you and your beloved, dishing out some friendly advice. Dance With My Father — an album released as the R&B giant ails in a New York hospital in a coma — suffers from being a little too down-tempo, and guest spots from the likes of Busta Rhymes and Foxy Brown come off as window dressing rather than true collaboration. A duet with Beyonce Knowles, "The Closer I Get to You," rises above the other cameos, but it's the anguished title track that sets Dance apart. When Vandross asks God to bring back his father, painful and private childhood memories turn a potentially maudlin song into a meditative, deeply personal prayer.