As you know by now, Shakira is back with her first all-Spanish album since "Donde Estan Los Ladrones" (not counting MTV Unplugged) and it's terrific.
On first listen, you'll get carried away by her voice. It is unique, powerful and versatile. But we sorta knew that going in.
On subsequent spins, if you take away her vocals, this may be her most "American" sounding album yet. Perhaps that is due to the influence of executive producer Rick Rubin.
The opener, "En Tus Pupilas" is a soft-rock, emotional ballad that we fans will recognize and welcome instantly.
It is followed by "La Pared", which proves she has been listening to Coldplay, as the music to the chorus is a total homage to "Clocks." It's not subtle at all, and it sounds great.
Much has been made about the first single, "La Tortura" and it's reggaeton elements, but if you recall the album "Pies Descalzos" (an album given to me by my cousin when I was visiting my family in Barranquilla years ago), you'll know Shakira has been doing this sort of stuff for a long, long time. Actually, I think the majority of the song has a huge Police sound to it during the verses, slipping into the more obviously reggaeton-like mode during Sanz' chorus.
"Obtener Un Si" is the surprising stunner on the album. It's an exquisite, retro-pop tune with vintage ice-skating-rink organ, sweet string sections and lovely, delicate melodies. This really demonstrates that her range simply is limitless.
"Dia Especial" is a fairly generic midtempo pop-rocker, and the hubbub about "Escondite Ingles" being "punk" is laughable. It's not. It's an obvious nod to The B-52's (check out the cheesy organ), but it's more like the pogoing power pop of New Wave. It's multiple time changes recall, in a good way, Green Day's recent efforts, and I loved the thrashy, messy ending.
"No" is another one of those Shakira songs that build from a mostly acoustic, introspective piece into a widescreen, dramatic epic like "Tu" and "Inevitable". It's not quite up to those standards, but it works just fine.
Who knew she could be Kylie Minogue? She does just that, in her own style of course, on "Las De La Intuicion", down to the disco-pop sounds and whispered back-ups.
"Dia De Enero" is a gorgeous folk-rock song and "La Imprescindible" is a noisy, percussive, synthesizer-filled 80's-like song that still somehow manages to work.
The extra tracks are an acoustic "La Pared" and a remixed "La Tortura".
The single best thing about this album has to be her voice. What an instrument! She moves confidently across genres, maintaining her unique mannerisms but becoming so rich and full (Dia De Enero) or soft and cute (Obtener Un Si) depending on what it takes to best serve the song.
Each song here is well crafted, lovingly produced and performed.
This may not reach the dizzying heights of "Donde Estan Los Ladrones", but this one just might age better.
This is really good stuff...I cannot WAIT for Volume 2, which I understand is all new songs, all in English...should be interesting, no?