Maria José

Amante de Lo Ajeno

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Former Kabah member María José got her career off to a shaky start in 2007 with her eponymous album debut. While it spawned a few hits and boasted first-rate production by hitmaker Aureo Baqueiro, who wrote half of the songs himself, María José wasn't the blockbuster hit that it should have been. It barely made the Top 40 of the Mexican albums chart -- a far cry from the success José had experienced as a member of Kabah -- and it wasn't long before the singer and Warner Music terminated their brief relationship. José went back to the drawing board for her second album, Amante de Lo Ajeno, an independently released effort produced by Loris Ceroni, an Italian hitmaker known for his work with Paty Cantú, Alejandra Guzmán, Kalimba, Natalia Lafourcade, and other Latin pop acts. Unlike her eponymous album debut, for which she relied upon industry songwriters to generate original material, Amante de Lo Ajeno is comprised of cover material, more specifically Mexican pop hits of the '80s. Cover versions of American and British pop hits of the '80s are a dime a dozen, but Mexican pop is a different story. Mexican pop doesn't have the universal appeal that English-language pop does, and it certainly didn't back in the '80s, when Mexico was still a developing country where MTV was a novelty, and the music marketplace was limited in reach. Indeed, while the cover songs featured on Amante de Lo Ajeno might have been big hits back in the day, they're fairly obscure nowadays, especially among the younger generation of Mexicans who comprise José's fan base. For most listeners then, the majority of the songs featured on Amante de Lo Ajeno are likely unfamiliar: "Adelante Corazón" (originally performed by Daniela Romo), "Acariciame" (Maria Conchita Alonso), "No Soy Una Señora" (Melissa), "Y Aquí Estoy" (Ana Gabriel), "Mi Amor Amor" (Lucía Méndez), "Cosas del Amor" (Vikki Carr and Ana Gabriel), "Sola No, Yo No Sé Estar" (Fiordaliso), "Este Hombre No Se Toca" (Rocío Banquells), "Herida de Muerte" (Manoella Torres), "Frente a Frente" (Jeannette), and "No Me Pregunten por Él" (Crystal). The highlight of the album is "No Soy Una Señora," a 1984 hit for Melissa that was initially an Italian pop hit by Loredana Bertè in 1982 under the title "Non Sono una Signora." Nearly as catchy as the originals, José's modern-day version boasts a club-ready syncopated beat and an explosive chorus powered by electric guitar. Other standout songs include "Mi Amor, Amor" and "Sola No, Yo No Sé Estar." Perhaps the most impressive aspect of Amante de Lo Ajeno is the production work of Ceroni, who does a praiseworthy job of capturing the sound of the '80s (i.e., big drums, lots of synthesizer, electric guitar). Granted, the artistic shortcomings of José that plagued her debut full-length are still evident on Amante de Lo Ajeno, but at least this album is a fun blast from the past that doesn't necessitate dynamic singing or anyone's songwriting.

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