A lot of the reviews I’ve read that have been derisive of Luther Vandross’s work have mentioned that he appears to be in love with the sound of his own voice. Motherfucker, if I sounded like that, I would masturbate to the sound of my voice! “Better Love” is the type of song that detractors would point out when trying to make that kind of point. And there is a certain masturbatory quality to Luther’s vocal. He’s bending notes not necessarily because doing so is integral to the song. He’s bending those notes because he’s Luther Vandross and he CAN. That may have been an occasional detriment later in his career (anyone who listened to 1994′s Songs can attest to that), but it definitely wasn’t an issue early in Luther’s career.
Luther’s an interesting case in that he was in his thirties by the time he finally hit it big as a solo artist. His first couple of albums find an artist who’s mature enough to be comfortable in his niche, but also young enough to not sound like the Old Man At The Club when he does uptempo material. “Better Love” isn’t exactly going to set dance floors on fire, but you can do a little two step to it. It’s the type of song you put on to cool dancers off at the end of your DJ set, or get the kinks worked out early in your set. Early Luther’s niche, even before the sentimental ballads, was those smooth danceable tracks, and “Better Love” is one of the best of that lot.