Affection is the debut solo album by British singer Lisa Stansfield, released by Arista Records on 20 November 1989. Stansfield co-wrote all songs with Ian Devaney and Andy Morris. Devaney and Morris also produced the album, except for "This Is the Right Time" which was produced by Coldcut. Affection received critical acclaim from music critics and was commercially successful. It reached top ten on the charts in many countries and has sold over five million copies worldwide. The album spawned a hit song, "All Around the World", and four other successful singles: "This Is the Right Time," "Live Together," "What Did I Do to You?" and "You Can't Deny It."
In March 1989, Stansfield was featured on Coldcut's song "People Hold On" which she co-wrote. The single became a top forty hit in Europe, reaching number eleven in the United Kingdom. In the United States, it peaked at number six on the Billboard's Hot Dance Club Songs. On the strength of this hit, Arista Records signed Stansfield as a solo artist, with Ian Devaney and Andy Morris from their band Blue Zone as her composers, musicians and producers. Coldcut returned the favour by producing Stansfield's next record "This Is the Right Time."
The whole album was written by Stansfield, Ian Devaney and Andy Morris. All songs were produced by Devaney and Morris, except "This Is the Right Time" produced by Coldcut. At first, Affection was released in Europe on 20 November 1989. It included thirteen songs on the CD and cassette editions of the album and ten songs on the LP version (without "Affection," "Wake Up Baby" and "The Way You Want It"). On 20 February 1990, the album was issued in North America with noticeably refined mixes of several of the songs and different sequence of the tracks. In 2003, Affection was remastered and re-released as limited edition digipak with four bonus songs: "People Hold On," "My Apple Heart," "Lay Me Down" and "Something's Happenin'." The last three tracks were originally included on the European single, "What Did I Do to You?." In North America, "Lay Me Down" and "Something's Happenin'" were featured on the "You Can't Deny It" single and "My Apple Heart" became "This Is the Right Time" B-side.
"This Is the Right Time" was released as the first single in Europe on 31 July 1989 and peaked at number thirteen in the United Kingdom, number seventeen in Germany and number twenty in Austria. One year later on 30 July 1990, it was issued as the third North American single, reaching number twelve in Canada and number twenty-one on the US Billboard Hot 100. "This Is the Right Time" also peaked at number one on the US Hot Dance Club Songs and number thirteen on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs. The second European single, "All Around the World" was released on 16 October 1989. It became a hit reaching number one in the United Kingdom, Austria, Belgium, Netherlands, Norway and Spain, and peaking inside top ten elsewhere. "All Around the World" was also issued as the first single in North America on 15 January 1990. It was commercially successful reaching number three in Canada and on the Billboard Hot 100. "All Around the World" also topped the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs and Hot Dance Club Songs, and was certified Platinum by the RIAA for selling 1,000,000 copies in the United States. The third European single, "Live Together" was issued on 29 January 1990 and reached top ten in the United Kingdom, Italy, Netherlands and Belgium. "What Did I Do to You?" was released as the next single in Europe on 30 April 1990 and peaked at number seven in Italy, number twenty in Ireland and number twenty-five in the United Kingdom. The second North American single, "You Can't Deny It" was also successful. It was issued on 14 May 1990 and reached number fourteen in Canada and on the Billboard Hot 100. The single also topped the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs and peaked at number two on the Hot Dance Club Songs. In 2003, "This Is the Right Time," "All Around the World," "Live Together" and "You Can't Deny It" were included on Biography: The Greatest Hits.
Affection received favorable reviews from music critics. Alex Henderson from Allmusic wrote that Stansfield took the R&B world by storm with her melancholy, Barry White-influenced single "All Around the World." Though she didn't shy away from hip-hop and house-music elements, Affection leaves no doubt where the British singer's heart lies -- sleek yet gritty '70s R&B. Though the retro leanings of such updated soul treasures as "You Can't Deny It" and "What Did I Do to You?" are obvious, Stansfield's producers keep things very fresh sounding by embracing a decidedly high-tech and very late-'80s/early-'90s production style. Though essentially a soul diva, Stansfield has a disco masterpiece in the love-and-togetherness anthem "This Is the Right Time." Amy Linden from Rolling Stone called Stansfield the "sleek soul mama for the Nineties." Affection is a picture-perfect marriage between house beats and the torchy growl of late-night silky soul. Not since Teena Marie has a white girl pulled off the pure joy and emotionality that Stansfield does, and without the downside of trying to sound authentically "black." Stansfield evokes Chaka Khan on "Mighty Love" and Deniece Williams on "You Can't Deny It" but doesn't ape them. She does it her way, with a hint of Brit reserve and a cool, never cold, aloofness. There's no chest thumping or sweating – Stansfield accomplishes what she has to with disarming ease. The way she reaches for the high notes ("What Did I Do to You?") and the way her voice slinks around the line "so-oo sad" in "All Around the World" show that this is someone who knows her roots – even if they aren't really hers. Affection's thirteen songs intermingle sweet Philly soul swing, the elegant string sections of the Seventies and Barry White's better moments of lushness; driving percussive keyboard patterns bring the mix firmly up to date. More simply, the album is an ideal blend of clubland energy and the passion of soul music, a dance record you can listen to.Greg Sandow from Entertainment Weekly wrote that Stansfield sounds both sultry and sincere: "Sincerity," in fact, is the subject (and title) of her most striking song, which she delivers with quiet but smoldering innocence. This is her first album, but she already sounds as if she knows who she is. The producers have invented rhythms so specific that each song seems to be shaped by its own genetic code. Some songs are chunky, some are silken; one underscores its title, "Poison," with what almost could be the sound of mammoth dark velvet bells. And that makes Affection stand out from other dance albums. The onrushing beat is varied and subtle enough to sweep you away not just once or twice, but in song after song.Robert Christgau stated that like few of her predecessors (Martha Reeves, Teddy Pendergrass), Stansfield's style is virtually devoid of trademark, display, or drama. The songs themselves are as attractive and unassuming as her voice, a fine instrument that provides more than the expected "quota of aural pleasure without drowning you in its bounty."
Affection has sold over five million copies around the world. It was certified 3× Platinum in the United Kingdom and Platinum and Gold in various countries, including Platinum in the United States for selling over one million copies. The album reached top ten around the globe, including number one in Austria and Italy. In the United Kingdom, it peaked at number two and in the United States, it reached number nine. Affection is Stansfield's most successful album.