In 2001, Philippine male singer Rico J. Puno released, Aliw (trans: Happiness). Rico J. Puno first started recording in 1976 (for another label), and built his career on singing easy-listening love songs. Many of these love songs, however, are bland and unchallenging. While the love songs on Aliw won't attract an international audience, they have more substance than usual, and there are other surprises as well. "Sorry Ka Na Lang" [trans: Sorry for You (I Am Married)], for example, is a funky, good-time number that has an instrumental introduction similar to that heard on Sly and the Family Stone's "I Want to Take You Higher." Another song, "Ganiyan Bang Lahat Ang Mga Babae" (trans: Are All Women Like That), is reggae-inflected and contains a tuneful and charming horn section. Importantly, Rico J. Puno acquits himself well on these songs, and appears ready to handle more of the same. "Baby, Ang Ganda Mo" (trans: Baby, You Are Beautiful) features a gospel-like tone and has a spirited backing chorus. However, the song also contains an easy-listening chorus, in keeping with the Philippines' taste for easy-listening music. Rico J. Puno's voice is strong and expressive throughout the album. On the ballad, "Sabihin Mo Sa Akin," Rico J. Puno imparts an expressive, soulful touch, and soars passionately at song's end. The opening, "Kay Hirap Mang Limutin" (trans: It's Hard to Forget You), is a pleasant, tuneful number while the middle-of-the-road "Siguro Mahal Kita" (trans: Maybe I'll Love You) is coupled with soulful overtones. Rico J. Puno should be commended for extending his musical reach.
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AllMusic Review by David Gonzales