Columbian songstress Shakira added an eponymous English release to her collection of 10 studio albums on March 21 via RCA Records, the newest since 2010’s “Sale el Sol”.
“Shakira” is on the lengthier side with 15 songs on the deluxe edition that feature guest appearances from musical giants Rihanna and fellow judge from “The Voice,” Blake Shelton. The warbly vibrato qualities typically associated with her hit single, “Hips Don’t Lie,” is as prominent as ever on tracks like “You Don’t Care About Me” and “Loca por Ti.”
Reggae inspiration joins traditional Spanish instruments in “Cut Me Deep,” which features a painfully poignant message accompanied by electric guitars, mariachi horns and an easily recognizable guest appearance of reggae-pop band Magic! (Why do you say things / If you do not mean them / Why do you fill up my wounds / With your dirt).
“23” slows the album down with homage to the singer’s romantic interest, soccer player Gerard Pique. Simple acoustic stylings accompany sweet, honest vocals that coo feelings of absolute adoration (I used to think that there was no God / But then you looked at me with your blue eyes / And my agnosticism turned into dust).
Although the album was predominantly written in English, “Nunca Me Acuerdo de Olvidarte” takes a step back to remind the audience of Shakira’s roots. The same song as the first track, it parlays the message of longing and passion, but with the addition of Spanish lyrics and a lack of Rihanna (which incidentally may be an improvement).
“Dare (La La La),” appropriately the official song of the upcoming World Cup hosted by Brazil, comes alive with upbeat drums and dance-inducing overtones that are expected of Shakira. An electronic segue (The whole world is watching / It’s truth or dare can you feel it) is punctuated by a chorus of inexplicably catchy la-la-la’s.
While an entertaining track, it sounds like a chopped-and-mixed regurgitation of her previous World Cup contribution in 2010, “Waka Waka.” Nevertheless, it no doubt has the ability to pump up an already semi-rowdy crowd of soccer fans.
“Spotlight” almost seems like a throwback to mid-2000s with electric guitar and lyrics that weave a tale of boy-meets-girl, girl-meets-boy. If Avril Lavigne were to attempt a modern-day revival of “Sk8er Boi” after developing thicker vocal chords and taking some vibrato lessons, this is what the product might be.
“Chasing Shadows” dips a toe into a 80s dance club with reverberating synth beats and electronically uplifting runs in conjunction with passionate, vibrato-heavy vocals. (We’ll chase our shadows / And when the night comes / We will run from nothing, my love).
One of the more readily accessible tracks, it’s easy to picture a windows-down summer day with this as the soundtrack.
An unexpected piano ballad softens the album in “That Way.” Echoes of stripped-down, flowing vocals fit perfectly into the melodies, accented by violin accompaniment (Oh, baby, can you hear the sound? / My broken heart’s beating faster now / In your arms / But I know that I’m safe here in your arms).
The four-and-a-half star iTunes rating indicates the general consensus ranks this as a positive addition to Shakira’s repertoire; however, of the 2,535 voters, one must wonder if only pre-established Shakira fans took the time to click their opinions.
Compared to Shakira’s previous releases, the passion is still present, but with an underlying feeling the recording label squeezed the songstress for filler tracks that lack the depth associated with her earlier career.
Throughout Shakira’s fruitful career, she has explored a decently wide range of genres to dabble in, all while remaining true to her soulful roots. While this album may not be the easiest for new fans to get into, a few bad apples don’t necessarily ruin the track listing as a whole.