Something happened to Jon Secada on his way to the bank: he found soul. While the string of hits from his 1992 self-titled debut was mindless pop at its infectious best, the Grammy-winning Secada is now ready to give R&B's smoothest operators a run for their romantic constituency.
His second effort (its Spanish-language counterpart, Si Te Vas, will be out in July) offers more sweet hooks and several pleasant surprises. Secada flexes a raunchy, dancer-friendly side on "Whipped" and "Fat Chance," both rousing, percussive romps. And while his R&B mode can sometimes seem too nostalgic or derivative—"Don't Be Silly" could be a Spinners' oldie revamped as a sexy slow-burn ballad—it can also sound as authentic as its inspiration. "Slay" doesn't just capture Earth, Wind & Fire's '70s heyday, it matches it. And that sinuous groove on "Good Feelings," which could stir the ghost of Marvin Gaye, is about as good as soul music gets. (SBK)