Graciela Beltrán

La Reina de la Banda

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Popular Tejano/banda singer Graciela Beltran moves from Univision to Fonovisa on her latest album, but the change of labels hasn't meant a change of sound. She's still "la Reina del Pueblo" (the people's queen), which means she's giving the public what they want, in this case ten songs of heartbreak and female empowerment. The opening track and first single, "Ya No Supe Amar," may come from the pen of an outside songwriter, but everything here does -- Beltran doesn't write her own material -- but the story it tells, of resilience in the face of betrayal, is one many members of her audience will doubtless relate to. It's mirrored by the album's closing cut, "Corrido de "El Hombre Fiel," and echoed in songs like "Yo Sin El" and "Ni Tu Ni Yo." In a way, arising as it does out of offstage heartbreak, this could be seen as Beltran's equivalent to Marvin Gaye's divorce-driven Here, My Dear. As always, her singing is impeccable, shifting between full-throated, incantatory cries and delicate crooning. The music is traditional banda, but cheesy synths are kept to a minimum, the parade drum has a solid thump, and the horns blare forcefully. This is an accomplished, emotionally affecting album that shows Beltran is in no danger of losing her throne.

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