A couple years removed from her mainstream breakthrough album, Sí (2002), and its string of perfect pop hits, Julieta Venegas returned with a similar album, Limón y Sal. It's difficult to fault her for doing so. Certainly, her earlier rock en español work -- Aquí (1998) and Bueninvento (2000) -- was critically acclaimed and remains well regarded. Her partnership with super-producer Gustavo Santaolalla for those masterstrokes vaulted her into the esteemed company of rock en español revolutionaries of the time like Café Tacuba and Aterciopelados. But it didn't equate to mainstream success, as that music was generally rough-edged and could be downright confrontational. Sí and Limón y Sal are a different story altogether -- upbeat, sunny, and just plain lovely albums of well-crafted pop songs that demand adoration, thanks partly to key collaborators Coti Sorokin and Cachorro López, who serve as producers as well as producers. Neither Sí nor Limón y Sal is particularly long -- 35 and 45 minutes, respectively -- nor is either all that ambitious. Sure, the songs showcase a stylistic mélange, embracing the occasional hip-hop beat or accordion accompaniment. Yet a steady acoustic guitar strum is always omnipresent, as is a firm pop song foundation highlighted by a singalong chorus. In a way, it's a little unfortunate that Venegas has put the Sturm und Drang of her youth behind her; Aquí and Bueninvento were truly brilliant and bold. Her newfound knack for more universally appealing music is itself a blessing nonetheless, for these new songs are easy to enjoy and, relative to much contemporaneous Latin pop (think RBD), superlative in craft. Highlights here are abundant -- you can pick any track, practically -- but like its predecessor, Limón y Sal kicks off with a few true gems: "Canciónes de Amor," "Me Voy," and "Primer Día," the latter notably featuring a rap by Dante Spinetta of Illya Kuryaki and the Valderramas fame. Even during the sad songs, like the spare "Última Vez," a genuine joie de vivre burns brightly, making it clear for the second album in a row that Venegas is moving her music into a new direction. That this new direction has brought with it greater popularity is an added bonus.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Jason Birchmeier