440 / Juan Luis Guerra

La Llave de Mi Corazon

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With his typical style and charm, Juan Luis Guerra delivers an intoxicating mix of merengue, bachata and salsa so expertly written and performed as to become an old favorite after the very first listen. Most comparable to 1998's Ni Es Lo Mismo Ni Es Igual for its amazing variety, La Llave de Mi Corazon surprises listeners with the unique texture and feel of each track, with evocative melodies and poetic lyrics that invite a closer look. Though the tropical music world (bachata and merengue in particular) is known for releasing records with totally homogenous repertoire -- most tracks so similar that the differences from song to song are semantic -- such is never the case with Guerra. From rollicking merengues like "Amores" to the New York salsa styled "Travesia" to the tender balladry of "Solo Tengo Ojos Para Ti," Guerra takes to each new musical terrain as if it were his native soil. Sonically, Guerra and 4.40 have found the balance between the heavily synthesized and the completely acoustic, leaning towards the raw and natural. Though the electronic sounds of days gone by have been fun, the woody warmth of Llave de Mi Corazon sounds mature and strong, serious. Though there's plenty of pop luster, there are no electronic techniques used that will date this album for future listeners. Not surprisingly, this record went straight to the top of Billboard's Latin Tropical Albums Charts, and even took a place in the Billboard Top 100. Llave de Mi Corazon may be the record that marks Guerra's ascension from genre heavy hitter to living legend. This CD was nominated for a Grammy award in 2007 for Best Tropical Latin Album.

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