Luis Fonsi

Paso a Paso

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When one thinks of Puerto Rican artists, the word that has generally come to mind over the years -- at least before the rise of reggaeton -- is "salsa." Salsa as in Tito Puente, Ray Barretto, Eddie Palmieri, Tito Rodriguez, Hector Lavoe, and Willie Colón. Salsa as in el Gran Combo, la Sonora Ponceña, and el Conjunto Clasico. But while many Puerto Ricans (along with Cubans, who invented salsa rhythms like son, cha cha, mambo, guaguancó, and danzon) have made valuable contributions to salsa, being Puerto Rican doesn't automatically mean being salsa-oriented. There are Puerto Rican popsters as well, including Luis Fonsi. Instead of catering to the tropical market, Fonsi has gone for an across-the-board appeal in the Spanish-speaking world -- and he continues in that Latin pop vein on Paso a Paso, which is definitely one of his stronger, more consistent releases. Fonsi hasn't always had great material to work with (his first English-language-oriented album, Fight the Feeling, was a disappointment), but this time, the songs (many of which he co-wrote) are above average. Paso a Paso is, by Latin standards, Top 40 fare -- and while the disc has a lot of adult contemporary appeal, Fonsi brings a bit of a rock edge to some of the tunes (especially "Por una Mujer," "Para Mi," and the soaring "Arropame"). Paso a Paso (which was mostly produced by Sebastian Krys) has some light ballads (including "Vivo Muriendo" and "Me Lo Dice el Alma"), but there are plenty of up-tempo items as well. Fonsi opts for variety, and it serves him well on Paso a Paso -- which, for all its sleekness and pop gloss, has plenty of meat on its bones. Those who have found some of Fonsi's previous albums to be uneven and inconsistent will be glad to know that Paso a Paso is a keeper.

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