In February 2004, vocalist/songwriter/bandleader Javier Torres was seriously injured in an auto accident on a highway in Zacatecas, Mexico. As a result, Torres and his group los Rehenes didn't work for five months -- no recording, no live performances. But Torres eventually returned to recording, and De Vuelta a la Vida is his first album since the accident. Stylistically, this 2004 release picks up where Torres' pre-accident albums left off. His forte is still grupero, a sleek, romantic, pop-minded interpretation of regional Mexican music. De Vuelta a la Vida draws on various Mexican styles, including norteño/Tex-Mex, cumbia mexicana (the Mexican version of Colombia's cumbia rhythm), ranchera, Sinaloa-style banda and duranguense (a horn-powered style that comes from Durango, Mexico). In regional Mexican circles, some believe that duranguense is a form of banda; others argue that duranguense isn't really part of banda -- whatever one's view on that subject, it is safe to say that even though there are parallels between Sinaloa-style banda and the Durango sound, the two are not identical. And it is also safe to say that Torres and los Rehenes incorporate elements of duranguense the same way they incorporate norteño, ranchera and cumbia mexicana -- in a way that is consistently mindful of Latin pop tastes. No one will accuse De Vuelta a la Vida and other Torres CDs of catering to regional Mexican purists; this is a Mexican version of Latin pop, just as Marc Anthony provides an Afro-Cuban/salsa version of Latin pop. And for those who fancy the crossover grupero style, De Vuelta a la Vida is an agreeable and pleasant, if less than essential, return to the studio for Torres and his colleagues.
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson