Sunday, January 15, 2012

Middle Of The Road Pop Is What Jon Secada Embodies!

The Good: Excellent voice, Decent lyrics
The Bad: Highly repetitive sound, thematically repetitive, poor arrangement.
The Basics: A thoroughly average album; excellent voice and competent lyrics aren't enough to save this banal-sounding and arranged album.

Long before the recent Latin music revolution, there was Jon Secada. Jon Secada is tough to recommend and in the end, I opted not to. I don't mean the singer, I mean his eponymous album - I don't know Jon Secada, the man. But when you put your name to an album, even entitle the album with your name, it means you're putting yourself out there.

I've always thought album names that are the artist's name, while unimaginative, say, "this music is who I am." After all, what else is a title? Going on that theory, I'd say Jon Secada is energetic, educated, redundant and classically trained for voice. I would also suspect that his musical talents lay more in voice than in any instrument.

Jon Secada is filled with radio friendly tunes, including the top tens "Just Another Day," "Angel" (both of which appear on the album in both English and Espanol), "Do You Believe In Us," and "I'm Free." It's easy to see why each of these tracks did so well; they tap into the teen disc-buying attitudes of romance and depression with catchy drum beats and a stirring Latin voice. The lyrics focus on love, losing love, questioning love and leaving love and those are pretty much four of the five things you can sing about to have a hit song. Each of these songs sound good; they are mellow pop-rock.

The problem is, the other six tracks sound nearly identical. Indeed, it's one thing to have two versions of "Just Another Day," but to follow it with the similar sounding "Dreams That I Carry" shows a distinct lack of imagination. Similarly, "Do You Believe In Us" and "One of a Kind" share the same repetitive droning sound. The way one song that sounds similar to another track after track illustrates poor production value. It also is indicative of the lack of imagination Jon Secada has when making music.

Outside of being musically unimaginative, the lyrics aren't bad and Secada's voice is excellent. The lyrics are almost all about love and loss and while some of them are decent, the thematic repetition throughout the album only further nails home the lack of imagination Secada suffers from. It's bad enough most of the songs sound the same, it's even worse that what each song is about is the same and sounding the same as the other songs around them. The rhyme schemes and vocabulary are unimpressive. There is no challenging aspect in this writing. They seem thematically repetitive in addition to vocally. The vocals stay in the same range, which adds to the repetitive sound. That's not to say that he doesn't have a nice voice. Secada's voice is smooth and mellow. Still, it's not enough to save this album.

Indeed, Secada's inability to expand his range beyond the tenor range is possibly why he's never come back with more hits than from this one album. He does the range he does masterfully, clearly singing the lyrics and with especially decent lung capacity on "Angel," but he never dares step outside that.

The background music is comprised of guitars, drums and piano and they are nothing to write home about. Fortunately, they never attempt to drown out Secada's singing.

A Jon Secada album with the singles from this album would probably be a good investment, though (provided he didn't do what U2 did and release b-sides!). Right in the middle of the road. The best track is "Angel," the weakest track is "Dreams That I Carry."

For other male vocalists, please be sure to check out my reviews of:
Painted Desert Serenade - Joshua Kadison
Rock Spectacle - Barenaked Ladies
Foiled - Blue October


For other music reviews, please visit my Music Review Index Page for an organized listing of all those reviews!

© 2012, 2003 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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