Charlie Cruz

Como Nunca

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Charlie Cruz's 2004 release Como Nunca may be reaching with its title. Though it is a very good pop salsa effort by one of Puerto Rico's own "hometown boys done good," it is very much in keeping with the sound and quality that fans have come to associate with the young singer. The writing is consistently of a high quality, and the instrumental performances are tasty (especially the unnamed tresero on "Grita Conmigo.") Another thing to count on this record is orgulla boricua to spare. The songs that go by without a shout-out to Cruz's home island are in the minority. The incorporation of contemporary hip-hop and reggaeton influence come courtesy of producer Sergio George, whose name can be found in the credits of virtually every album on the salsa charts today. His influence brings a maturity and interest in variety not typical of artists in Cruz's age bracket. The music definitely profits from an experienced hand in the control room. Though the arrangements are not as complex as many of George's projects, there is a style and sophistication that the listener will notice and appreciate. Cruz's vocal confidence behind the mic belies his age. His smoky timbre and comfort with improvisation fit well with the romantic bad boy attitude of the lyrics. Como Nunca is a pleasingly romantic dance record; Charlie Cruz as always.

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