ANITA BAKER'S pop breakthrough has revitalized the notion of adult soul singing. Suddenly it's fashionable again to sing as an older, but wiser veteran of love with just a hint of smoky jazz flavoring the gospel-soul confessions over an '80s rhythm track.

Few singers have taken better advantage of this renewed genre than Miki Howard. Howard, the daughter of prominent Chicago gospel singers and the former lead singer for Side Effect, finally finds the proper vehicle for her remarkable voice on her second solo album, "Love Confessions."

That voice can climb into a thrilling gospel shout, as it does on several climaxes on this album, but it can also smolder sensually during a whispery ballad verse. Howard works with seven producers and 15 songwriters on her new album, but she overcomes this committee approach with her own strong personality. She manages to fit both Billie Holiday's "You've Changed" and Earth, Wind & Fire's "Reasons" into her distinctive style, which is marked by an unusual balance of dignity and desire. The album's highlights are her two collaborations with Levert, the trio that has emerged as top producers and songwriters as well as singers.


"Love Confessions" (Atlantic 7 81810-1). Appearing with Glenn Jones Saturday at Constitution Hall.