Two decades into his illustrious career, Ricardo Arjona remains at the top of his craft on 5to Piso, his first album of new material since the Grammy-winning Adentro (2005). Arjona was awarded the 2007 Grammy for Best Latin Pop Album and the 2006 Latin Grammy for Best Male Pop Vocal Album for Adentro. In the midst of the critical acclaim, the Guatemalan singer, songwriter, producer, and arranger released a double-album career retrospective, Quién Dijo Ayer (2007). The first disc of Quién Dijo Ayer features newly recorded versions of career highlights, along with a couple new songs, "Quién" and "Quiero," that were hit singles. The second disc features the original versions of the same career highlights, including "Mujeres," "Historia de Taxi," and "Si el Norte Fuera el Sur." The career retrospective of Quién Dijo Ayer, an album on which Arjona recast the style of his greatest hits, along with the critical aftermath of Adentro, a commercial juggernaut that spawned five hit singles over the course of two years, set the stage for 5to Piso, an eagerly awaited album with a phenomenal lead single, "Cómo Duele." Arjona's biggest hit in years, "Cómo Duele" is one several masterfully crafted songs sequenced at the beginning of 5to Piso. Beginning with the meditative title track, 5to Piso picks up with a couple standouts, "Sin Ti...Sin Mí" and "El del Espejo," before peaking during "Cómo Duele." While the ten songs that follow aren't as striking as the four-song beginning of the album, there are many memorable songs, particularly "Tocando Fondo" and "Nadie Sabe Adonde Va." Some of the more surprising moments found in the latter half of the album, such as the purely orchestral arrangement of "La Bailarina Vecina" and the ranchera duet "Ni Tú Ni Yo," are memorable as well. However, fans of Arjona's straight-ahead rock style are sure to be disappointed with much of 5to Piso, as piano and strings drive much of the music rather than the electric guitar and drums of years past. More typical than exceptional for Arjona at this point in his career, 5to Piso isn't as grand an album as his past few -- not only Adentro and Quién Dijo Ayer, but also the unplugged album Solo (2004), all of which put his career in retrospect. Yet it's a great album all the same, particularly the opening run of songs that culminates with "Cómo Duele," and it finds Arjona still at the top of his craft.
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AllMusic Review by Jason Birchmeier
feat: Paquita la del Barrio