Review: Shakira’s ‘Sale el Sol’

(Courtesy of Shakira)

Shakira’s seventh album, “Sale el Sol,” dropped on Oct. 19 and marks a maturation in Shakira’s career. A bilingual album which jumps from acoustic rock jams to Latin dance mixes to piano ballads finds its coherence in Shakira’s distinct and seductive voice.

The album opens with the eponymous “Sale el Sole,” a pretty standard acoustic rock tune made beautiful by Shakira’s voice, crooning out Spanish with a mix of tenderness and desperation.

Next, Shakira tells us to “dance or die” in “Loca,” the first of several collaborative tracks on the album. The highlight of this hip-shaking, moderately paced dance track is Dizzee Rascal’s raps, set to Latin beats and complemented by Shakira’s famous moans and sultry rolled R’s. “Gordita,” featuring Residente Calle 13, is more of the same, this time setting Shakira’s fierce grunts against an electronic underpinning. “Antes de la Seis” brings us to a softer place, with Shakira’s voice stripped to its sensitive core. The soft piano is complemented by the swelling of an acoustic guitar, as Shakira offers her listeners a far more vulnerable persona.

Before we are completely lulled, “Addicted to You” hurries back to the hip-swaying dance beat. And then it’s back to tenderness with “Lo Que Más,” a sad ballad that steps into the realm of the melodramatic. One of the best tracks on the album is “Rabiosa,” featuring Pitbull’s familiar interjections. It’s exactly the kind of undeniably sexy song you’d expect from a Shakira/Pitbull collaboration, a smart and seductive dance mix that won’t let your hips sit still. Pitbull’s raspy raps mesh well with Shakira’s sultry moans and invitations to “come get a little closer.”

And of course, the album wouldn’t be complete without three versions of Shakira’s smash hit “Waka Waka,” written for the 2010 World Cup, an uplifting song which leaves the listener feeling empowered and ready to win a soccer match or dance the night away.

Shakira’s “Sale el Sol” is a fantastically diverse album with some awesome collaborations and a truly impressive range of emotions. While a few songs felt contrived in comparison to the powerful honesty of the album as a whole, “Sale el Sol” is overall an exciting collection of songs which offer the possibility of seduction and relaxation in one album. It’s a sexy, self-assured and successful leap from the pop music vibe that marks her recent hits.

The sheer power of Shakira’s vocal chords is clearly the focus of the album, and that voice does not disappoint, calling on us to rock out, to make love, to feel deeply and above all, to rise up, our hips swaying and our hearts pulsing to a distinctly Latin tempo.

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