Release Date: 06.08.04
Record label: Sony Discos
Beautiful Voice, But That's Not Enough
by: matt cibula
Man, I really wanted this album to be amazing, but it’s only good, and therefore a huge disappointment. Marc Anthony has some kind of huge instrument there, an almost operatic tenor that can actually cause tears to leak from stones; he sings with all the passion and fire anyone could ever want in a singer. But, sadly, that’s not enough.
It’s the songs, I think. They’re too sappy, too overproduced by Estéfano, too general and not specific enough, too stereotypically Latin-ballad-ish. That doesn’t make this stuff bad or unpleasant to hear—on the contrary, this is about the best Spanish-language romantic pop music ever made, probably. The way the swelling strings give way to the metal guitar in the middle of “Se Esfuma Tu Amor” forms a perfect frame for Anthony’s soaring voice, and the handclap heartbeat underneath the acoustic guitar and rain-stick noises of “Tu Amor Me Hace Bien” could probably not be beat for crucialness.
In fact, there are some strange wonderful things buried here. The techno touches on “Nada Personal” are perfect and unobtrusive, and the brilliant decision to bury Anthony’s voice in the opening verse under layers of murk just makes it slam harder when he lets loose with his “real” voice. And if you think I’m going to argue with the fake-Trevor-Horn production touches at the beginning of “Nada Personal,” then you just don’t know me.
It’s impeccably done, tasteful and shiny as you please, not a note out of place, and with several thrilling vocal performances. It’s sexy, it’s professional, it’ll make a lot of people cry and/or make out madly. (Confession: I asked to review this record because my wife really likes Marc Anthony. Like, really likes Marc Anthony.) And anything that induces tears and sex can’t be that bad for the world.
So what the hell is my problem? Well…I’m not sure. Maybe it’s all the perfection, all the frozen crystallized arpeggios, all the sweeping strings and cavernous power-ballad drum sounds. It’s Vegas, baby, all the way—it’s good the first time through, the second time through, but by the third time it starts to wear on you. This is pop the way Celine Dion is pop: easily digestible, hardly memorable.
And maybe I’m falling prey to the whole biographical foofaraw. After all, can we expect to learn anything about love from a guy who split on his stunning wife (a former Miss World) and young children for his duet partner (and now wife), some up-and-coming young starlet named Jennifer Lopez? Nope—hey, the human heart is a delicate thing, a mysterious little thing that no one has yet been able to explain, and I’ve danced to enough R.Kelly not to review on that basis. But what about the fact that their song together here, “Escapémonos,” betrays no chemistry, no fire, no passion whatsoever? Now that bothers me.
Marc Anthony has another record coming out this year, a record much more focused on salsa. I’ll have to wait for that one to hear something I really love. In the meantime, this perfect and serviceable little album will have to remain in the “like” category. (And when the lights are low, but you didn’t hear that from me.) 26-Jul-2004 12:32 PM