Graciela Rueda Y El Mariachi Amfeca

Flor Mexicana

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Flor Mexicana is a collection of Latin standards performed by vocalist Graciela Rueda and the group Mariachi Amteca. While Rueda's vocals are strong throughout -- shifting easily from a mournful croon to heartfelt, fiery singing -- the arrangements here favor syrupy horns and strings over a more traditional sound. This, coupled with each song ticking along at an identical tempo, makes Flor Mexicana quite tedious after only a few songs' duration. Rueda's rich vocals and the natural romance of the Spanish language do their best to glean some emotion from the set. But too often the drippy strings and plodding acoustic rhythm guitar veer the whole operation into elevator music territory. Mariachi Amteca does manage to reflect some of the sunlight in Rueda's voice during "Que Bonito Amor" and "Un Motivo," even if each track is still weighed-down instrumental ballast. But besides the brief respite of these songs, Flor Mexicana is Spanish-language easy listening that's pretty forgettable.

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