Priscila y Sus Balas de Plata have a reputation for providing music that has as much to do with Latin pop as it does with the norteño area of regional Mexican music, but on Tierra Mala (Badlands), they decrease the Latin pop factor considerably and turn the ranchera factor up -- way, way up. This 2008 release is definitely one of the group's more traditional recordings, and that Mexican traditionalism does not come from norteño elements alone. Rather, Tierra Mala often mixes norteño with elements of mariachi, banda, and duranguense; on this album, norteño-style accordion is frequently heard alongside mariachi-style trumpets, banda-style brass, and duranguense-style keyboards. So Tierra Mala isn't pure norteño any more than it is pure mariachi, pure banda, or pure duranguense. But whatever the combination of instruments one might hear on a particular track, this CD almost always exhibits a hardcore ranchera mentality -- and for those who associate Priscila with grupero and pop-drenched ear candy, it may come as a surprise to hear how enthusiastically, unapologetically ranchera the singer sounds on "Cuando Ya No Me Quieras" (When You No Longer Want Me), "Prisionero de Tus Brazos" (Prisoner of Your Arms), "Mi Destino Fue Quererte" (My Destiny Was Loving You), and "Conmigo No" (Not with Me). There is nothing wrong with commercial ear candy as long as it is well done, but that isn't where Priscila is coming from on Tierra Mala; this time, ranchera is a main ingredient rather than a mere afterthought. One wishes that Tierra Mala were longer -- the disc lasts a mere 30 minutes -- but even so, this is among the more essential Priscila releases of the 2000s.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson