Dave Marsh
August 30, 1991 AT 04:00 AM EDT

I'm On Your Side

Current Status
In Season
Jennifer Holliday

We gave it a C-

A decade after starring in Dreamgirls, Jennifer Holliday remains a singer without identity. She’s making headway in her campaign to shout and growl like an Aretha Franklin-style R&B belter, rather than theatrically over-enunciating like a show singer. But in I’m on Your Side, not even the ‘Retha-esque ”I’m on Your Side” and ”Raise the Roof” can survive their overstuffed arrangements. This affliction is common among Arista artists whose records are supervised by label president Clive Davis, music’s best-known executive producer. On these records, no track is ever too plush, no lyric ever too banal. That yields about what you’d expect: music that sounds like the work of an executive rather than an artist. Such records are mainly boring, but when all the flaws fit together just right, as on Holliday’s ”Guilty” and ”Is It Love,” they become a kind of hack’s self-parody. C-

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