Kenny Loggins' melodies are so irresistably catchy and his songs are so well built that it hardly matters that they're also overly sentimental and utterly predictable. Last night at Merriweather Post Pavilion, Loggins' strong tenor voice filled out those melodies with vibrant good cheer. With no ambitions beyond sunny entertainment, Loggins proved a skilled pop craftsman. With a dozen years of recording behind him, he could skim the cream off his songwriting output.
Loggins is best known for his vocal duets with Jim Messina, Stevie Nicks, Steve Perry and Michael McDonald. Yet his voice was strong enough to carry off an interlude of seven songs performed with just his own acoustic guitar and soaring falsetto. Nevertheless, the show's best moments came on Loggins' performances of songs he wrote with Doobie Brother McDonald: "What a Fool Believes," "This is It" and the new "Heart to Heart." These songs married soulful syncopation to Loggins' appealing melodies. A strong band led by jazz-rock keyboardist Neil Larsen snapped off the beat, and Loggins' resonant tenor brought home the tunes.
America has hit the comeback trail with a new hit single, "You Can Do Magic," which sounds a lot like its old hits: "Ventura Highway," "I Need You" and "Tin Man." Dewey Bunnell & Gerry Beckley, a soft-rock vocal duo (since Dan Peek left the original trio in 1977), sang them all. They still blended their humming voices and strumming acoustic guitars pleasantly in a quite competent but ultimately pointless imitation of Crosby, Stills & Nash.
Kenny Loggins and America return to the Pavilion tonight.