Following the release of his 2015 sophomore album, Who Me?, singer/songwriter Juan Wauters entered a time of travel and growth. Beginning in 2016 he was involved with several films being shot in France and Argentina. After that, he traveled Latin America with a mobile recording setup, meeting new musical collaborators in each town and recording the songs that ended up comprising La Onda de Juan Pablo, an album documenting this phase spent in transit. Arriving just months after that album was Introducing Juan Pablo, a collection of songs and interludes recorded between 2015 and 2016, after the release of Who Me? but before he embarked on his epic journey. Where La Onda de Juan Pablo picked up on the energy of the various locales it was recorded in, with all the songs sung in Spanish, Introducing Juan Pablo feels more like a preamble to that time. Though these songs were also written and tracked largely in transit, they come from a time when Wauters was still writing scrappy Beatlesque indie folk tunes. Upbeat songs like "Letter" and "Lora" are great examples of Wauters in this mode, "Letter" appearing in two different versions, one with a low-rent rhythm section and springy 12-string guitar leads and one a stripped-down duet with Maxine Vulliet. Much of the album has a pastiche feel to it, as Wauters offers dreamy, reverb-soaked acoustic songs ("Mystery"), downtrodden loner ballads ("Straighten Up and Lose," "Lonely"), and brief instrumental or field recording-based tracks tying more traditional songs together. The hazy flow of the collection isn't dissimilar to the travelogue style of La Onda de Juan Pablo, but it seems to be exploring Wauters' internal world more than geographic destinations. He drifts between singing in English and Spanish, much as he would switch languages in his everyday life in Brooklyn, depending on the situation. In the context of Introducing Juan Pablo, this breezy back and forth just furthers the intimate and unguarded feeling of the album, as songs shift and wander as easily as thoughts on a sunny day. The entire album feels like being invited into Wauters' daydreams, and the slightly wobbly production enhances this friendly atmosphere.
AllMusic Review by Fred Thomas