Wynonna Judd (MCA 10529) Now that Naomi has retired from performing and recording, the Judds no longer exist in the plural. But after experiencing the singular charms of Wynonna Judd's first solo album, "Wynonna," it's doubtful that listeners will much mind the change of case; some may even like it better this way. True, Wynonna's singing is a mite more rambunctious than the duo's output was, but that works to her advantage on songs like "What It Takes" or "A Little Bit of Love," lending her music the sort of energetic edge Garth Brooks is famous for. And though the slow songs aren't always as convincing ("My Strongest Weakness" seems particularly soggy), she does well enough with "She Is His Only Need" and the luminous "Live with Jesus" to suggest that her ballad skills will doubtless improve with time.
EnVogue (East/West 92121)
New jack swing may have brought new life to the sound of R&B, but it is at root a basically regressive style, softening the toughest elements of hip-hop and funk in order to make them more acceptable to the mainstream. That's part of the reason why "Funky Divas," the sophomore effort from EnVogue, is often as frustrating as it is fun. On the one hand, the quartet's harmonizing is truly exhilarating, fleshing out the chorus to "My Lovin' (You're Never Gonna Get It)" and adding a new dimension to the Beatles' "Yesterday." But the rhythm arrangements are predictable in the extreme, and anyone familiar with Funkadelic will find the way EnVogue completes the phrase "Free Your Mind" to be pointlessly polite.