Rossy War

Internacional

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Although vallenato has given cumbia a run for its money in Colombia, cumbia continues to be the country's most celebrated rhythm -- and cumbia also has plenty of devotees in Mexico, Bolivia, Argentina, and Peru, home of the popular Rosa Guerra Morales, aka Rossy War. The Peruvian star might look rather cartoonish on the cover of Internacional; sporting a cowboy hat, thigh-high black leather boots, leather shorts, and Bettie Page-like bangs, War looks like a cross between a vaquera (cowgirl) and a dominatrix. But the contents of this collection, which Warner Music Latina assembled for the U.S. market in 2002, are no joke -- War is an expressive, captivating vocalist who brings considerable passion to her work. This 39-minute, ten-track budget CD points to the fact that War is a master of the cumbia triste (sad cumbia) or cumbia de lágrimas (cumbia of tears), and she sings with a great deal of conviction on melancholy offerings like "Me Engañastes" ("You Deceived Me"), "Solitario Corazón" ("Lonely Heart"), and "Herida por Tu Amor" ("Wounded by Your Love"). Equally memorable is "Carta de Dolor" ("Letter of Pain"), which has also been recorded by los Bio Chips (another well-known cumbia act). Although consistently rewarding, Internacional is not an ideal best-of; some of War's essential gems are missing, including "Tonto" and "Te Acuerdas de Mi." And 39 minutes isn't terribly generous for a best-of -- Warner could have easily come up with another 30-35 minutes worth of first-class material. Nonetheless, Internacional has a lot going for it -- certainly by budget-CD standards -- and it is among the War discs that are worth obtaining if one is interesting in exploring her cumbia legacy.

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