Yahir, former winner of the Mexican American Idol clone La Academía, performs exactly the kind of music you'd expect from a dude who followed that path to stardom. Elemental opens with a swooning ballad, "Viviré," that starts with acoustic guitars but eventually swells into orchestral grandeur. That's followed by an upbeat track, "Si Te Piden Tiempo," that sounds like the composer was trying to harness the anarchic energy of Los Fabulosos Cadillacs without scaring off Ricky Martin fans. The result -- twangy guitars, Brazilian percussion, pumping horns, a super-clean vocal up front -- isn't bad, but it won't stick in your head the way "El Matador" or "Livin' la Vida Loca" do. The other two upbeat songs, "Caminito de Besos" and "Cuando Se Quiere," sound like watered-down Juanes or Alejandro Sanz tracks, though the former track's leap into a salsa rhythm for the chorus is mildly diverting. Yahir's got a nice, pleasant voice, and the ballads that make up the majority of this disc will surely make the chicas swoon. But it's a very safe album; he even performs a Diane Warren-written song to close the disc ("Si Te Veo Llegar," a translated version of "Listen to Your Heart"). Elemental is pop music performed with a high degree of skill and almost no uniquely Latin flavor; these songs could be translated into any language and sung by any reality TV talent show winner to identical effect.
by Phil Freeman