By 1982, Carole King’s contract with the Capital label had come to an end. She then signed with Atlantic Records for the release of the album One To One that year.
For better or worse, her album releases have been compared to the brilliant and mega-selling Tapestry since it came out in 1971, and have always come up short. That album was so ingrained into the American music consciousness that it has been difficult for any subsequent release to escape its shadow and stand completely on its own.
One To One was a Carole King album that was very good in its own right. The song structures were imaginative and the melodies were sound. The lyrics may not have been as personal or sophisticated as her earlier work but all in all, it added up to to one of her better middle career efforts.
King mostly recorded with a basic band, plus she handled the piano work and lead vocals herself. It was always a good sign when guitarist Danny Kortchmar appeared among the music personnel. Here he was joined by another superior guitarist, Eric Johnson. Other musicians included keyboardist Reese Wynans, bassist Charles Lackey, and drummer Steve Meador, among others.
She was the solo composer of seven of the 10 tracks, but the three with other writers were very good. The title song was written with Cynthia Weil, who was part of another great 1960s husband-and-wife writing team with Barry Mann. The melody was addictive, and as the first track, it got the album off to a solid start.
“Looking Out For Number One” was written with Gerry Goffin, daughter Louise Goffin, and Warren Pash. This time, too many cooks were not too many. It was tuneful and made for King’s voice. She turned to former husband Gerry Goffin for “Someone You Never Met Before.” It was the album’s strongest track and proved that their ability to create songs of beauty remained intact over two decades into their songwriting careers.
There were several solo-penned songs that were strong as well. The autobiographical and aforementioned “Looking Out For Number One” was a philosophical statement of where she was on her life’s journey at the time. “Read Between The Lines” had a catchy chorus that just stayed in your mind. “Little Prince” closed the album and left you wondering who exactly was the little prince.
One To One remains an underappreciated and sometimes forgotten album in Carole King’s vast catalogue. It deserves better as it is a very good album that is still worth a visit now and then.