Label: A&M Records - SP 5040,A&M Records - SP-5040 • Format: Vinyl LP, Album • Country: US • Genre: Rock • Style: Pop Rock
Two years having passed since her Persona Grata - Joan Armatrading - Secret Secrets studio record, Joan Armatrading re-emerged with yet another producer new wave veteran Mike Howlett on Secret Secrets. Some of the material on here is very good, but the commercial momentum that had built up behind her during the early '80s was beginning to dissipate.
The singles "Temptation" and "Thinking Man" are as catchy as "Drop the Pilot," and the message is more mature and upbeat this time, but the songs failed to make much of an impact in the U. It's hard to fault the music for the drop in commercial interest; Howlett's atmospheric production honed during his work with bands like Berlin and OMD is in line with the musical tastes of the mid-'80s.
However, longtime fans will Persona Grata - Joan Armatrading - Secret Secrets to notice some cracks, notably that Armatrading's voice is no longer the commodity it once was. Musically, her acoustic guitar is completely lost in the mix a disingenuous harmonica solo on "Moves" isn't so luckywhile labelmate Joe Jackson is brought in to play piano on the ballad "Love By You," a role normally reserved for herself.
As a songwriter, Armatrading hasn't lost a step: "Talking to the Wall," "Persona Grata," and "Secret Secrets" are sure to strike a chord with fans. And the backing musicians are again exemplary, especially Pino Paladino on fretless bassAdrian Lee on synthesizerand a perky horn section that includes Steve Sidwell and Dave Bitelli. Yet the album does mark a slight decline in the quality and quantity of Joan Armatrading's music, even if the root of trouble isn't a lack The Tight Hold Of The Sun On Its Wandering Children, The Comets - Prick Decay - Escape To The Deposi what to play but whom to play to.
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