Whenever Alberto Aguilera Valadéz, aka Juan Gabriel, comes out with a new album, one can safely assume that the word "romantic" will be applicable in some respect. The Mexican superstar, who turned 61 on January 7, 2011, has long reigned supreme as one of the leading figures of romantic, adult-oriented Latin pop; typically, Gabriel fans also tend to be fans of Julio Iglesias, José José, Marco Antonio Solís, Joan Sebastian, and Luis Miguel. In other words, he is a master of what is essentially Latin adult contemporary. But on Boleros, Gabriel focuses on a more old-school area of Latin romanticism: the classic bolero sound. Production-wise, this late-2010 release isn't without some 21st century Latin pop gloss, but even so, Boleros is full of arrangements that recall the classic bolero recordings of the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s. That isn't to say that Boleros is an album of standards that were written 40, 50, 60, or 70 years ago; Gabriel doesn't perform anything by César Portillo de la Luz, María Teresa Lara, Marta Valdes, Arturo Castro, Consuelo Velázquez, or any of the other great Latin composers who were known for their boleros. Actually, Gabriel offers original material exclusively on this 41-minute CD. But there is definitely a neo-classicist aesthetic at work on Boleros, which thrives on lushness from start to finish. Gabriel sets the romantic tone with the opening "Bendito Domingo" (Blessed Sunday) and maintains that unapologetically romantic ambiance with equally lush offerings such as "Así Sucedió" (That's How It Happened), "Conquístame Otra Vez" (Conquer Me Again), "¿Qué le Dijiste a Diós?" (What Did You Say to God?), and "Pase Lo Que Pase" (Come What May). Boleros is a superior collection of Latin mood music from Gabriel.
by Alex Henderson