Capturing a voice in the studio as glorious as Jennifer Holiday’s can prove to be a challenging endeavor. She first captivated audiences on Broadway with her signature ballad from “Dreamgirls”, “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going”. That song remains the template for many belters on “American Idol” or any singing competition. She rode the wave of that success to another R&B smash, “I Am Love” on Geffen Records. After 3 outings with Geffen, she signed with Arista Records in the early ‘90s which would be the catalyst to give her another Top 10 R&B hit with the gospel-inflected, title song, “I’m On Your Side”. On that track, she caresses each lyric with an assurance as the background does the traditional call & response.
The album she recorded at Arista was perfect for the Quiet Storm format that was still immensely popular around this time. Songs like “More ‘N More” fit effortlessly on Quiet Storm and Urban Adult Contemporary stations across the country. New Jack Swing would dominate much of the R&B playlists in the early ‘90s. She fit comfortably on the slow midtempo side of that sound with “More ‘N More”, whilst “Raise the Roof” was an uptempo New Jack Swing song that enjoyed club play especially in underground gay clubs.
Then-budding R&B performer/songwriter, Gary Taylor, contributed the second single, “Love Stories”. It is a midtempo quiet storm ballad about unrequited love. She worked with songwriter/producer Barry Eastmond on 3 tracks including this modest groover. (Barry Eastmond is a celebrated producer, best known for his work on Anita Baker’s RAPTURE). On Ashford & Simpson’s “It’s In There”, Jennifer at times can sound like Nick Ashford with breathy soulfulness. “It’s In There” is another track that flows nicely in the quiet storm format. As the song climaxes, she gives an arresting performance.
She gives one of the more passionate vocal performances on the uplifting, touching “A Dream With Your Name On It”. It is the kind of song that allows Jennifer enough room to breathe along with the deliberate melody. It has the majestic feel of a great Olympics song. And Jennifer very much meets the challenge.
I’M ON YOUR SIDE became a solid R&B Top 30 album. It would be her best-charting album since her debut. While there may not be anything groundbreaking here, the album flows nicely and gives you several different sides of Jennifer’s many talents.
K. Bonin has worked in the music industry for the last three decades. He describes himself as "a child of Motown and the classic rock era." Having spent the balance of his career at Arista Records, his experience and passion gives him a unique perspective on music and the music industry. Kirk can be contacted via email at email@example.com
About the Writer
K. Bonin has worked in the music industry for the last three decades. He describes himself as "a child of Motown and the classic rock era." Having spent the balance of his career at Arista Records, his experience and passion gives him a unique perspective on music and the music industry.