Review: “From Now On” by Jaki Graham (Vinyl, 1989)

Today’s POP RESCUE from an uncertain fate, is the 1989 third album From Now On by British singer-songwriter, Jaki Graham. Will this album be a fresh new start, or is it just more of the same old thing? Read on…

Jaki Graham - From Now On (1989) album
Jaki Graham – From Now On (1989) album

Side One of this 9 track album opens with the lead single and title track From Now On. This bursts straight in with the beats, which build up to Jaki’s arrival, where she shares how she’s moved on and promises that ‘I’ll be strong‘. Weirdly the video focuses on lots of people clicking their fingers, but this can’t be heard in the mix. Meanwhile, Jaki gets plenty of opportunities to show off her vocal power, and she takes it, resulting in a nice little pop song, complete with a late venture for Mr. 80’s Obligatory Saxophone solo. The song is sits on the ‘new beginnings’ theme, but sadly, the UK public disagreed and the single flopped at #73.

Next up is Provocative, which flies in with synths, rapid drum beats, and a nice bass-y synth sound, and it briefly reminds me of Betty Boo and Paula Abdul in places. This, like the preceding track, is a song about strength and power – ‘I’m gonna drive you crazy, because I’m a wicked lady’ Jaki sings, and her vocals carry this off perfectly.

The third track is ballad The Better Part Of Me, and this is a love ballad that allows Jaki to show off her vocal range and power. I suspect that many were by now considering Whitney Houston as ‘The Better Part’, and despite a truly phenomenal vocal performance she puts in, poor Jaki was simply pushed out of the charts. The ending really lets Jaki’s vocals shine bright, but the whole track is a romantic slow dance or first dance ballad. Sadly, it fared poorly, stumbling at #79 in the UK singles chart.

The finger clicks and bass lead us into Faking The Feeling, before someone unleashes a roaring electric guitar – a contrast to the previous track. Jaki’s soulful vocals also give us a contrast, and she is also given space to show off her range and some wonderfully warm harmonies. This is a nice upbeat pop song about a no-good lover.

This side closes with Still I Run To You, which features Phillip Ingram on vocal duties. Synths, plodding beats and a whisper of strings take us in to Jaki’s vocals. She sounds rich and warm here, and there’s a wonderful contrast between her voice and the sharper tone of Phillip’s vocals in the second verse. The track builds well, along with the vocals, although the song is a bit meandering and hard to find a melody.

Side Two opens with (Baby) Don’t You Want Me – which begins with a fast percussion-laden intro, and sampled vocals. It’s off to a stomping start, and again carries the strength and power theme from side one. The track is pretty catchy, partly courtesy to the tempo, but also through Jaki’s great pop vocals.

I Want To Thank You (Heavenly Father) is next and this track feels messy. Whilst it has some nice musical moments with synths and bass, courtesy of producer Kurtis Mantronik (of Mantronix), but Jaki’s vocals sound muted, lost, and way too high register for this song. The track seems to wander around far too much to feel comfortable, and its presence here conflicts with the earlier tracks in the album.

That’s followed by First In Line which brings us back to form again. There’s a ton of beats and synths, and a pretty overall funky sound to it. Jaki’s soon into the verse and along with the harmonies, it really builds up and grows on you. The chorus is great and found myself singing along to that a bit on first listen by about halfway through.

The album closes with Every Little Bit Hurts, and this is a delight. Musically it sounds like it is trying to replicate the 1960’s soul sound, and it works wonderfully. The track is a cover of the 1964 hit made famous by American singer Brenda Holloway. It’s a wonderfully warm and gentle ending to this album.

Jaki Graham’s lead single ‘From Now On’ from 1989.

Verdict

Over all, it’s clear that Jaki Graham is taking no sh*t from anyone.

Throughout this upbeat album, Jaki sings about strength, power, and how she’s tired of being treated badly in love. With that in mind, From Now On is essentially an uplifting album in the main. There are some wonderful examples of late-80’s pop songs here, that are laden with drum machines and synths.

Jaki clearly has the vocal power that would sit her alongside that of her contemporary Whitney Houston, and she’s usually given the time and space to show that off in this album.

There are some duff turns though – the inclusion of I Want To Thank You (Heavenly Father) feels very out of place, and I Still Run To You is a little on the weaker side, but the rest of the album is great.

It’s a huge shame that despite seeing a UK release, and with singles, Jaki was unable to capture her earlier success. She was robbed.

Rated 4 stars - You're missing a treat!
  • POP RESCUE 2021 RATING: 4 / 5
  • 1989 UK ALBUM CHART PEAK: Did not chart.
  • POP RESCUE COST: £3.00 from a Discogs.com seller.

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