Yolanda Pérez

Dejenme Llorar

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When Jenni Rivera's career exploded in the '90s, it was a major event for banda -- a style that, historically, has been one of the more male-dominated forms of Mexican music. There was never a law stating that banda artists had to be male or that female Mexican singers were obligated to sing mariachi, ranchera, or Tejano instead, but for whatever reason, banda is a style that one usually associates with male vocalists. Rivera has been a major exception, and because Yolanda Perez is also a female banda artist, Dejenme Llorar will inevitably be compared to Rivera's work. The parallels are certainly there -- both grew up in Los Angeles, both are bilingual, and both bring a Chicana perspective to banda. But the younger Perez, who was only 20 when this debut album came out in 2003, is hardly a carbon copy of Rivera. While Rivera makes some pop moves, Perez makes a lot more -- Dejenme Llorar is hardly the work of a banda purist. It is, however, the work of someone who has obvious potential even though she falls short of the sort of excellence one expects from Rivera. Dejenme Llorar isn't exceptional or fantastic, but it's generally decent -- and the album's best tracks make listeners want to keep a close eye on Perez and see how she develops. Although 90 percent of the lyrics are in Spanish, Perez can sing in English when called upon to do so, and obviously shares Rivera's appreciation of classic soul and doo wop. One of the album's highlights is a very likable remake of Barbara Lynn's '60s soul classic "You'll Lose a Good Thing," which lends itself nicely to a banda/corrido makeover. Despite its shortcomings and imperfections, Dejenme Llorar has more pluses than minuses and indicates that Perez is well worth keeping an eye on.

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