"A Tear and a Smile" indicates that Lewis's career trajectory was sometimes markedly similar to Melissa Manchester's. Both began with charming, self-written albums, then got steamrollered into becoming more conventional by Clive Davis and the Arista machine, and then - by the first half of the eighties, went pop - Manchester with the "Hey Ricky" album, and Lewis with this one. At the same time, both retained some traces of their original approach, supplying three or four self- or co-written songs per album.
Thankfully, since then, both have reconnected with their muses. Which isn't to say that their respective, short-lived pop periods were not enjoyable. "A Tear and a Smile" is largely upbeat, near-bubblegum, with a handful of ballads. Linda wrote "Why Can't I Be The Other Woman" about her failing marriage, and it's probably the best of the slow ones here, while "I Am What I Am" is my favourite of the shamelessly boppy, synth-pop ones. "This Boy" sounds like something from a flashy, insubstantial 60s girl group given an 80s makeover.
Listeners differ in their preferences for this artist's different periods, so I'd love to hear from someone attempting a spirited defence of "A Tear and a Smile" as Linda Lewis's best album. Judge for yourself by listening to it here at 320 kbps