Colombian-Lebanese singer/songwriter Shakira announced that her new album the bilingual Sale el Sol (The Sun Comes Out) originally expected to hit the record stores this week may (according to sources at Billboard magazine) not be released in some markets until November 2, Election Day. The new Epic disc contains 15 tracks and is the Grammy winner’s ninth album.
This is a promising platter as this time out the musician/producer relied on introspection to supply her with material. In fact, Shakira told the press: “This album represents exactly the way I am—my state of mind today, as an artist and as a woman,”Shakira recently told the press. “Some of the songs remind me of my beginnings, so it’s kind of like going back to where everything started, but from a new perspective, with the way I see things now.”
Perhaps this is why the songs seem to refreshingly lack some of that studio gloss and have a comparatively stripped-down sound to them. The whole CD has a more relaxed feel to it and the siren’s sexy voice seems to simply shine through in a way that is hasn’t in years. Instead of simply shaking her butt, Shakira has shaken herself free of the sometimes unnecessary studio technology.
The album’s opener, the title track “Sale El Sol” has a bit of a country feel to it thanks in part to her production partner Luis Fernando Ochoa who most notably contributed to her 1996 breakout project Pies Descalzos. At present, however, her most well-known tune is the single “Waka Waka (This Time for Africa)” (and its Spanish counterpart “Waka Waka (Esto es África)”. The track (recorded with the South African group Freshlyground) was chosen as the official song of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, received an overall positive critical reception, and is already an international hit having sold over four million copies.
The most recent single to be released off the CD is “Loca”. This cut is basically a cover version of the 2008 merengue hit “Loca Con Su Tiguere” by Dominican rapper El Cata, who appears on the track with Shakira. This number is complete with a dance club tempo which makes it fresh and unique.
The English version of “Loca” features a guest appearance by the UK rapper Dizzee Rascal and is included on here as a bonus track. Unlike some of Shakira’s other attempts to translate a foreign-tongued track, this one loses nothing in said translation. Perhaps Shakira is getting a firm grasp on her own brand of music.
Other critics agree that there is a definite “tropical influence” spread throughout the disc. This certainly is the reason for the strength of such tunes as the hip-grinding “Gordita” (which includes reggaeton star Residente of Calle 13), “Addicted to You” and “Rabiosa”. “Gordita” is a hot, sexy duet that is both clever and edgy.
Witness the (translated) line: “Let’s throw ourselves from the same bridge/ Without parachutes in our world flying, like the hippies when they’re smoking.” This one is surely the critic’s choice here if only because it is fun to the listener. The other above-mentioned songs (“Addicted to You” and “Rabiosa”)are said by some to represent a not-often-heard genre, merengue-rock.
They contain a basic driving beat layered with bare brass riffs that result in a sound that is irresistible. The harder numbers, “Devocion” and “Islands”, are excellent examples of the earlier-mentioned simpler approach. Both songs were co-written with award-winning Uruguayan lyricist Jorge Drexler and Argentina’s Gustavo Cerati.
Sale El Sol seems to provide Shakira with the chance to show the world the bare-bones essence of the multi-lingual performer who has turned on Latin America. Perhaps audiences will see why she is the highest-selling Colombian artist of all time, second only to Gloria Estefan, selling millions of discs worldwide. Perhaps this recording will allow her to fully demonstrate why she is the only singer from South America to reach the number-one spot on not only the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 but the Australian ARIA chart and the UK Singles Chart as well.
My name is Phoenix and . . . that’s the bottom line.