Juan Gabriel

Inocente de Ti

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    7
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Equal parts Paul McCartney, Liberace, and William Shatner, Juan Gabriel, in late middle age, remains a personalidad. Inocente de Ti finds the icon of desperate Latin housewives attempting to stay current by incorporating Jeff Lynne and the Matrix into his dizzying mix of influences. That he actually sort of pulls it off without falling on his face is a testament to his taste and talent. But Gabriel's hooks and soul are firmly rooted in the 1970s, and in the title track you can literally hear them breaking out from behind a wall of alt-rock guitar -- complete with backup singers and the old reliable repeat-refrain-a-step-higher. Admittedly, this can be as disturbing as it is fascinating, but, of the other four standout tracks, "Como te Quiero Mi Amo" and "Gracias por Todo" are convincing and catchy pop/rock, while "Amor Profundo" and the raucous tropical closing track cast aside all pretense and embrace the gaudy dated kitschy glory that Gabriel embodies when he is on top of his game. If the Latin-lite filler that comprises the other half of the record doesn't rise to the same level of memorable campy fun, it is at least impeccably produced and with personalidad to spare. While it can't be ranked with his best, Inocente de Ti shows that Juan Gabriel is still full of surprises.

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