ChicagoValentine's Day is just around the corner … do you have your candles, wine and CDs ready?

Rhino Records has issued a Love Songs disc just in time for the season, this one collecting the romantic hits of Chicago. Included on the CD are "You're The Inspiration," "If You Leave Me Now (Live, 2004)," "Hard To Say I'm Sorry," "Colour My World," "Hard Habit To Break," "Will You Still Love Me?" "Wishing You Were Here" and "What Kind of Man Would I Be?" among others.

Classic crooner Johnny Mathis has just issued a disc of new recordings, Isn't It Romantic: The Standards Album, if you're interested in setting the mood with a 1960s-style ballad collection, supported by smooth strings and jazzy lounge piano. Released on Columbia, the disc features Mathis covering "Isn't It Romantic," "Day by Day," "Almost Like Being in Love," and ends with "Over the Rainbow, " a duet with the late Ray Charles.

Air SupplySony's Legacy label has partnered with RCA and Arista to expand its annual Love Songs compilation series. This year, Legacy offers Love Songs albums by Air Supply, Nina Simone, Lena Horne, Dionne Warwick, Neil Sedaka, Gladys Knight & The Pips, Harry Belafonte, the Delfonics and Waylon Jennings.

No doubt the Air Supply Love Songs collection, with its selection of "Every Woman in the World," "All Out of Love," "Lost in Love," "Making Love Out of Nothing at All," and "Even the Nights are Better," will be the top seller, especially since, for long-time Air Supply fans, the CD offers "Miracle," a new recording by the classic '80s band.

 

Kyle VincentKyle Vincent
Don't You Know
(Songtree)
   


In the '90s, singer-songwriter Kyle Vincent left behind his pop-rock band Candy and moved from being an opening act for Barry Manilow to scoring a Top 20 hit in 1997 with "Wake Me Up (When the World's Worth Waking Up For)." Since then, his career hasn't had the pop chart visibility his talent should support.

While the radio hits have been lacking, he's released a couple of seductively warm collections of material on his own label, the latest being Don't You Know, which may be his strongest album yet.

Part of the reason Vincent has probably been passed over by the major labels is his penchant for sounding a bit out of step with music today. While his songs might sound a little out of place amid the pop hits on The Mix - 101.9-FM, they would fit in perfectly with the other love song classics on The Lite - 93.9-FM.

For fans of 1970s radio pop, Vincent is the second coming. Vocally, he has the rich, evocative sound that helped the Cassidy brothers — Shaun and David — as '70s pop idols. And his songwriting references the sweetest ballads of the '70s and '80s, garnering comparisons to Air Supply, John Denver, The Carpenters, and Manilow. With rich, layered harmonies, just the right touch of strings and lots of strumming guitars, Don't You Know is an album of pop lost in time.

A perfect Valentine's Day listen, Don't You Know includes a gorgeous, heartstring-pulling hymn to a grandmother in “One Last Ride on the Merry-Go-Round,” (if you can listen to this without a lump in your throat by the end, you are also probably boycotting Valentine's Day!). It offers a supportive “I'm on my way to help you” anthem for a sibling in “Sister Hold On” and a love song to, of all things, a stream in “Sweet Alice Brook.” There is bittersweet personal conflict in the lost dreams of “Soul,” where Vincent sings to an uncreated child about why he can't see his way to bringing it into this world until we've achieved more love, beauty and peace.

It's not all quiet crooning though; the opening title track has some “Wake Me Up” style pop legs as Vincent sings of a love that begins in line at “the Stop n' Shop” (only a guy from California could drop in the phrase “soy ice cream” in a pop song and get away with it). And his electric guitar gets a bit of a workout on “The Ghost of Rock ‘n' Roll,” a homage to Casey Kasem and the 45s of Vincent's youth that begs to be played at a sock hop somewhere.

Vincent has a pop pen that can warm the coolest heart; don't miss this wonderfully realized collection of ballads and nostalgic-but-new pop songs. For more information, check his Web site at www.kylevincent.com.