Ricardo Arjona

Historias

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AllMusic Review by

Historias, Ricardo Arjona's second album for Sony Music, is a significant leap forward from his breakout debut effort, Animal Nocturno. For many fans, it's his finest effort thanks to the many hits found here, among them "Señora de las Cuatro Décadas," "Historia de un Taxi," "Te Conozco," "Realmente No Estoy Tan Solo," and "Libre." For all the hits, the album is a bit uneven. Then again, that seems to be the point, as each song is stylistically distinct and the instrumentation is remarkably varied. There are around two dozen instruments credited on the album, everything from saxophone and trumpet, to piano and Hammond B-3, to cello and bassoon, to violin and viola. This is a big difference from Animal Nocturno, which was relatively austere in instrumentation. Most notably, the hard-rocking electric guitars, omnipresent synthesizer, and gated drums that comprised the bulk of Animal Nocturno are downplayed on Historias. Recorded in Dallas, TX, this is an elaborate album that employs an army of studio musicians and reflects Arjona's grand ambitions as an artist. In addition to the colorful musical palette of Historias, it's conceptual. In accordance with the album title, each song tells a story. The best example is the album's epic centerpiece, "Historia de Taxi," which tells a complex story of lust, betrayal, and fate in which a low-class taxi driver picks up a high-class blond in a miniskirt. Like the song itself, which runs nearly seven minutes, the story is long and deep. It's astonishing on several levels and demonstrates the brilliance of Arjona. Historias is filled with such songs. The ballads in particular are brilliant. Released only a year after its predecessor, Historias is a far more sophisticated album than Animal Nocturno. That album has great songs too, but it was more or less a rock album in style and spirit. In contrast, Historias shies away from full-throttle rock (only three of the 14 songs are driven by electric guitar) and favors intricate arrangements of horns, woodwinds, and strings. It's an album full of not only hits but also plenty of surprises, be it the lyrical conclusion of "Historia de Taxi" or the bluegrass country arrangement of "Historia del Portero." If you were to pick only one Arjona album for your collection that wasn't a greatest-hits compilation, this should be the one. Historias was a career-defining success for Arjona.

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