2004's AMOR Y LAGRIMAS is the ninth album by Adan Chalino Sanchez since his 1995 debut ADIOS AMIGO DEL ALMA. A bright star in the roster of popular young norteno performers (his glamorous cowboy persona seems to borrow much from American country music stars like Alan Jackson and Tim McGraw), Sanchez is refreshingly true to the genre's roots.
The instrumentation here is wholly traditional: accordion, drums, bass, and guitar. The small ensemble sound keeps things intimate, and Sanchez's soulful croon floats over waltz-time rhythms and trades melodic call-and-response phrases with the accordionist. Sanchez specializes in corridos, a popular Mexican storytelling song form. Unlike some of his contemporaries, Sanchez never incorporates elements of Tejano (a related, but more urban-based, rhythmically pronounced form of norteno), nor tailors the form to contemporary pop radio by adding synthesizers or production flourishes. AMOR Y LA GRIMAS is straight-up norteno-- cowboy music for south of the border.