Today’s Pop Rescue from a fate uncertain, is the 1992 debut eponymous album Jon Secada from Cuban singer and songwriter, Jon Secada. Will this album be like it’s sent from an Angel, or will it be more like Just Another Day? Read on….
The album opens with his hit debut single Just Another Day – the first of many songs showcasing Jon’s songwriter skills. This song flows wonderfully, with the soft beats, tinkling piano, and the wonderfully warm vocal harmonies, which is also the first of three appearances from fellow Miami Sound Machine alumni, Gloria Estefan, whose voice you can clearly make out in the mix. In fact, you could almost imagine this song as one of hers. Jon shows off his vocal power and range perfectly, resulting in a fantastic early ’90s song that gave him a #5 UK hit.
Next up is Dreams That I Carry, and the tinkling piano is back and sounds suspiciously very similar. A gentle 90’s pop beat sits underneath as synths and guitars lead us through this lower register track. It’s nice, but it sounds very close to the previous song, but without the same uplifting feeling. It does have a nice vocal build up towards the 4 minute mark, but at 4m 46s long, it just feels a bit too long for something that’s sounds alike the preceding track.
The piano is back, and thankfully gives us something new for emotive ballad Angel. Breathy synth pads are like a whisper throughout the track, as Jon and the piano do the bulk of the work here. Jon’s vocals aptly do shine ‘like an Angel’, and eventually a plodding stadium rock pop beat drops in, cementing its sound as a lighters-in-hand audience waving favourite. An electric guitar roars in the mid section, giving Jon’s voice something to briefly dual with. This was the album’s third single in the UK, and it ground to a halt at #23, probably for a cry.
Next up is Do You Believe In Us, opening like a track from pop starlet’s album, before switching to a shuffling beat and the arrival of Jon for the first verse. Again, Jon gets to show off his sheer vocal power and range in this little pop song. The synths and piano are in there too, and ultimately this reminds me somewhat of some Lisa Stansfield of the same era, meets the album tracks of Sonia’s debut. This more popish sound saw chart action as the album’s second UK single, but it stumbled at #30.
One Of A Kind follows this, and whilst it is a more mellow and downbeat song, the descending chord sequences actually make it sound really nice. It’s packed with piano and bass, and a ton of synths, that help sew this track together alongside Jon’s vocals. An uncredited flute flitters throughout the latter part of the song, and this is really well placed. It’s a nice track.
That’s followed by Time Heals, another mid-tempo track. This time Jon is reflective, pining for a lost love to ‘heal my broken heart’. This song is the only one to not have been written by Jon himself, and it feels a little different musically. Jon does a great job though – his vocals are flawless.
Next is Do You Really Want Me, and the tempo picks up, sounding not a million miles away from trying to get close to Madonna‘s earlier hit Vogue in the percussion and bass. Whilst the idea of a more up-beat song on this album is a welcome one, this one just lacks in catchiness. Yes, there’s a ton of pseudo Italia-house piano, and some wonderful percussion going on, it just feels out of place with Jon and this album so far.
The backing vocalists open Misunderstood wonderfully, giving a tease of more up-beat energy. Then the track drops into the first verse, and the backing vocalists have had their voices sort of robotised a bit. They recover in time for the chorus though, which is far catchier and vocally strong. A guitar and synth strings drops in from time to time, the former getting a nice solo at about 2m 40s. Aside from that though, the vocal performances in the verse just sound flat and uninteresting. I’m not sure you’ve been that misunderstood, Jon.
Always Something follows this and it opens with applause and cheering, and you realise it’s starting off (at least) as a live track before seemingly being subtly mixed into a studio version. This song, which seems to carry an 80’s sound, has the energy in vocals, beat, and electric guitars that we’ve much needed on this album. Jon and the backing vocalists sound like they’re having a good time, and the end result is a really great song that should have found its way into the UK singles chart.
The fifth and final single I’m Free is next, and we’re back into a piano-led ballad again. Jon’s vocals once again sound flawless and effortlessly delivered, and he gets some great moments to show it off, including alongside his backing vocalists. The track sounds like it belongs on a film soundtrack (think: Pretty Woman). It’s nice enough, but pretty forgettable.
The album closes with two Spanish-language versions of earlier tracks, taken from the Spanish-language version of this album that was released in parallel.
The first being Orto Dia Mas Sin Verte (Just Another Day), which of course sees Gloria Estefan back again, but this time as translator as well as backing vocalist. The track is musically identical, with only the lyrics being different (sung in Spanish). It is utterly familiar, and the Spanish language suits it well. Jon manages the powerful long-held Spanish lyrics, and you can once again hear Gloria on the mic in the mix. The track was also a single from the Spanish version of the album.
The album finishes on the Spanish version of Angel, and again the Spanish lyrics (thanks Gloria!) work perfectly. It’s still the same piano and breathy synth emotive song, but doesn’t make it any less paint-by-numbers power ballad.
Over all, this album is a jumble. There’s no doubt that Jon’s vocals are flawless and capable of delivering some incredibly long, powerful, and high notes, but the album has a slight identity crisis.
Whilst his fellow former Miami Sound Machine bandmate, Gloria, successfully switches between sounds in her career, it’s definitely felt like a harder job here. He sounds like he’s trying to take on the pop star and the balladeer, and it’s a case of the two styles sitting here side-by-side diluting them all down.
Just Another Day, One Of A Kind, and Always Something are my favourites here – they have energy and catchiness, but the low points Angel and Misunderstood (mostly), are just so mundane or twee that it aches.
If you enjoyed his one big UK hit, by all means give this a listen, but prepare to do a few skips.
- POP RESCUE 2021 RATING: 3 / 5
- 1992 UK ALBUM CHART PEAK: #20
- POP RESCUE COST: £1.00 from a Poundland store.