Review: “Now In A Minute” by Donna Lewis (CD, 1996)

Today’s Pop Rescue from a fate unknown, is the 1996 album Now In A Minute by Welsh singer-songwriter, Donna Lewis. Will this album be a timeless classic, or sixty seconds of hell? Read on…

Donna Lewis - Now In A Minute (1996) album cover
Donna Lewis – Now In A Minute (1996) album

This 11 track CD opens with the gentle beat and highly-affected synth/guitars of Without Love. This is a soft and seemingly dreamy start to the album with instruments forming layers, as the beat shuffles along and Donna delivers soft yet sharp vocals. Eventually an acoustic guitar arrives on the scene as Donna’s vocals leads us through verses and choruses. The track doesn’t particularly stray far from the original sound, and this perhaps helps to explain why it stumbled at #39 in the UK chart when released as a single.

Then it’s US-only single, Mother which opens with what sounds like a music box before giving way to some synth pads giving it an almost lullaby sound. The track takes a delicate percussive approach until the chorus, which is when the beat and bass arrives. Thankfully this builds the track nicely, and Donna’s vocals sound at ease here and nice and clear too.

Hit I Love You Always Forever is next and this gave her a great debut single, reaching #5 in the UK. Donna’s soft vocals work really well with this nice warm mid-tempo song. She almost whispers and breathes the vocals out, over a plodding bass drum and simmering guitar. The subtle changes in percussion and lyrical pace in the chorus helps to make it sound catchy, and the piano and handclaps help to lift it further therefore cementing its place in the hall of catchy tracks even if the rest of the song is quite sleepy.

That’s followed by what sounds like reversed bagpipes in the intro of Nothing Ever Changes set against some harder pop beats. A foggy synth pad swells in the ears as Donna’s breathy and sometimes raspy vocals drift in through it. Guitars again simmer on the boundaries of this song as Donna’s vocals and harmonies fill the song. The tinkling piano towards the end adds a point of interest in this otherwise song of wafting.

Simone is next and it’s a sad reflective song, complete with the mournful cello, and this works well with Donna’s sad vocals perfectly. Strings help to fill the driftiness of the song, and it’s almost something you could imagine from Sinéad O’Connor.

Then it’s on to Love & Affection, and this track has some semi-growling guitars, and Donna’s vocals sound harder and louder. It’s seemingly the first time this combination is rolled out so far, and it works well, with Donna seemingly feeding off the guitars for some kind of vocal power. This really could have been a follow-up single rather than the softer songs that were chosen.

Synths lead us into Agenais (a former region of France) which then switch to keyboards alongside Donna’s vocals. The song almost sounds like it’s a Christmas carol, but it thankfully builds again with Donna’s louder and more confident vocals. It’s a simple song until about 2m 50s, when the cello arrives to add a further layer of warmth to the track.

Next up is Fools Paradise, the album’s second single, and this track is in with a hard snare and bass. Here, Donna’s vocals are louder and strong, although she is grumbling them at times. The chorus is quite nice and catchy though and this results in a great song. Why it failed to chart is a mystery.

Then it’s Lights Of Life, which pitches Donna against a heart-beat-like drum and classical guitar. It’s a delicate but slightly miserable song, with occasional synths thrown in. It kind of musically glows but doesn’t particularly grow. It’s nice enough.

Silent World follows that, opening with some nice piano, tinkling in the silence. Donna arrives, with soft breathy vocals similar to the opening of her I Love You… hit. Her voice sounds wonderful against the piano, and the song is quite beautifully sleepy, in a way similar to the album’s opening song.

The album closes with I Love You Always Forever (Philly Remix), which of course every 90’s pop song had one of at the time. Here, the Philly is spread with a thick beat and bass line. This remix gives the track some weight and funkiness that isn’t heard in the original version, and reminds me a little bit of Oui 3’s Break From The Old Routine. The chorus arrives with handclaps, layered vocals and some well placed trumpets. It’s the most up-beat song on the album.

Donna Lewis’ debut single ‘I Love You Always Forever’ (1996).


Over all, this album is quite soft and wafting, with a twang of Cyndi Lauper to it.

If you enjoyed the soft whispery vocals of hit I Love You Always Forever (which is probably the only track you’ll recognise here), then you’re in for a treat. That song is brilliant, but the Philly Remix builds on it giving it a real ‘fullness’ and foot-tapping quality to it. Other highlights include Love & Affection, Fools Paradise, and Silent World, which all feel either more upbeat and a stronger use of Donna’s vocals, or beautifully dreamy.

There’s no real stinker here, but plenty of ‘ok’ songs. Those ‘ok’ moments are real middle-of-the-road – like Agenais, Mother, Simone, and Lights Of Life, which work in the same way a Dido album works – they’re inoffensive and unmemorable, meaning you can put the album on, those tracks blend together, and they are punctuated by moments that catch your attention every now and then, and suddenly you realise you’ve listened to the whole album.

It’s a soft and wafting album as I said, but a little more energy as shown in just a few songs, and this album would be worth some more stars, and a few more hits.

Rated 3 stars! It's a nice album.
  • POP RESCUE 2023 RATING: 3 / 5
  • 1996 UK ALBUM CHART PEAK: #52
  • POP RESCUE COST: 50p from a seller.

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