Loco de Amor is a very different kind of album for Colombia's Juanes. He recorded it in Los Angeles, with famed British producer Steve Lillywhite (his first Latin recording), assisted by Emmanuel "Meme" del Real of Mexico's shapeshifting rock act Café Tacvba, who also plays keyboards. Lillywhite has worked with everyone from U2 and the Rolling Stones to the Killers and the Dave Matthews Band. The core band here is smaller (though there are numerous guest appearances), though the sound is hardly stripped down. Juanes plays more acoustic guitar than electric here, and he's enlisted former Ekhymosis bandmate Fernando Tobon to play tiple throughout, adding a traditional texture to a decidedly provocative mix. Drummer Abe Laboriel, bassist Brian Ray, and percussionist Richard Bravo round out the band. Opener "Mil Pedazos" is a typical alternative Latin rocker with a big hooky chorus and a piano vamp worthy of Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band, though the pulsing, zig-zagging synths underneath add an edge. The title track, with its call-and-response voice and female chorus, blends Latin rock, tropical, and dance-pop, Colombian salsa, and cumbia. It's a stormer. Speaking of cumbia, the album's first single, "La Luz," melds 21st century EDM to Colombian cumbia and Latin alt-rock in a driving, infectious dancefloor groover with some killer falsetto from Juanes. The swaying, Spanish-tinged, midtempo rock of "Laberinto" features one of the finest melodies on the record, while "Persiguiendo el Sol" commences with 12-string and tiple. With its buzzing bass throb and rim-shot snare, it becomes an urgent, affirmative, nearly transcendent rock & roll song. "Corazón Invisible" commences as a bossa-tinged ballad gently caressed by acoustic guitars and lithe percussion, but becomes a pop song with graceful cello, a slippery backbeat, and soulful bassline underneath the vocal. "Me Enamoré de Ti" initially seems like an introspective acoustic ballad, but eventually builds into a hooky rocker (with a Baroque string-drenched bridge), and becomes a fist-pumping anthem. Loco de Amor offers longtime fans plenty of Juanes' signature sound to satisfy, That said, its provocative blur of genres, styles, and traditions delivers some bracing new sounds that should attract a wider range of listeners.
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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek