4000 Palabras

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Conchita's debut album, Nada Más (2007), was a revelation, spawning a trio of big hits, charting for over a year, and going platinum. Her follow-up effort, 4.000 Palabras, aims to recapture the magic of her debut. Once again, she teams up with producer Juan Luis Giménez and kicks off the album with a grab bag of surefire Latin pop hits. Conchita's working relationship with Giménez, perhaps best known by his solo recording artist moniker Logan, is well established by this point. Not only did he produce her debut album, he also featured her on "Un Año Sin Hablar," a duet on his third album, Fémina (2007). His production work on 4.000 Palabras is perfectly polished. He wisely shines most of the spotlight on her vocals and acoustic guitar, generally adding light touches of percussion, strings, piano, and additional guitar here and there. There are also Spanish touches, but they're so slight that this album could be from Italy or France if not Spain. Indeed, 4.000 Palabras is reminiscent of some of Italian international superstar Laura Pausini's output, in particular the sweet voice of Conchita and the outwardly evident passion with which she sings many of her refrains. The two singers even look alike. Yet whereas Pausini tends toward grandness, in both her musical arrangements and lyrics, Conchita is considerably more down to earth. The emphasis on her acoustic guitar playing gives 4.000 Palabras the feel of a folk-pop album, even if it's way too produced and commercially minded to be folk in any meaningful way beyond the "pretty young girl with acoustic guitar and self-penned songs" motif. Rather, this is middle-of-the-road Latin pop dressed up as folk-pop, and while the production sheen and absence of Spanish signifiers will turn off some listeners looking for something more authentic, the Finnish-born Conchita is clearly one of Latin pop's brightest new stars. 4.000 Palabras drags a bit as it reaches its 14-track finale, as the proceedings get a bit too samey, yet the heart of the album is its opening stretch of highlights, especially "¿Dónde Lo Guardo?," "Cuéntale," and "Un Trocito del Aire."

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