A tribute to the musical heroes who inspired his career and the friends he's made along the way, former Sin Bandera pianist/vocalist Noel Schajris' third solo album, Grandes Canciones, features 12 tracks originally performed by some of the '80s Latin pop scene's most iconic artists. Produced by Sebastián Krys, the follow-up to 2009's Uno No Es Uno starts out promisingly with the Buenos Aires-born Mexican artist transforming Ana Gabriel's glossy power ballad "Quién Como Tu" into a driving slice of country-rock, adding an authentic blues twang to Luis Miguel's "La Incondicional," and turning Juan Luis Guerra's "Bachata Rosa" into a slinky bossa nova number. But following the ska-pop treatment of Emmanuel's "Quiero Dormir Cansado," Schajris appears to lose the confidence to make the material his own, opting instead to play it safe with perfunctory covers of drippy romantic ballads from Ricky Martin ("A Medio Vivir"), Franco de Vita ("Te Amo"), and Alejandro Fernández ("Si Tú Superias"), with only a faithful rendition of Los Enanitos Verdes' Latin rock standard "Lamento Boliviano" providing a much-needed shift into second gear. A rare venture into English-language territory on a sentimental take of Eric Clapton's "Tears in Heaven" and a stripped-back piano-led reworking of Ricardo Montaner's "Me Va a Extrañar" add a slight curiosity value, but it's not enough to shake the feeling that Grandes Canciones is a rushed stopgap effort rather than the labor of love Schajris claims.
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AllMusic Review by Jon O'Brien