By the time of his fourth album, La Vida...Es un Ratico, it was difficult to imagine Juanes being any more acclaimed or popular. He'd already won trophy cases of awards, from numerous Grammys to France's highest cultural honor, L'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, and he'd already topped charts in a diverse range of countries, including not only the entire Spanish-speaking world, but also such unlikely markets as Germany, where his 2005 single "La Camisa Negra" was a number one hit. Plus, he'd toured the world seemingly without end in support of Mi Sangre (2004), expanding his fan base to such an extent that Universal chose to release "Me Enamora," the lead single from La Vida...Es un Ratico, to media outlets in 77 countries. All of this was accomplished without singing a word of English, for despite his renown and multinational appeal, Juanes chose to sing only in his native Spanish, not even recording alternate versions of his songs for the enormous English-language market. Eagerly anticipated by fans and industry insiders alike, La Vida...Es un Ratico is a step forward for the Columbian rocker in terms of artistry. As expected, the album brims with earnest songwriting, heartfelt singing, dexterous guitar playing, and glimmering production. An undercurrent of Latin rhythm is well evident on most songs, especially "Me Enamora," "Báilala," and "Tres," and there's a good balance of rockers as well as ballads; for instance, the album opener, "No Creo en el Jamás," kick-starts the album with a surge of forward momentum, while the back-to-back sequencing of "Minas Piedras" and "Tú y Yo" is a lulling mid-album pivot. Sequenced before that mid-album pivot is a run of standout songs ("Me Enamora," "Hoy Me Voy," "La Vida...Es un Ratico," "Gotas de Agua Dulce," "La Mejor Parte de Mí"), each stylistically distinct and memorably melodic. The centerpiece of this run (i.e., the title track) is also the centerpiece of the album; a passionate piano ballad about life, love, and family, and about how time is fleeting, the song "La Vida...Es un Ratico" (which, in English, translates to "Life Is a Moment") is among the most striking and poetic of Juanes' career to date, up there with "A Dios Le Pido." As a whole, La Vida...Es un Ratico is as just impressive as his past albums, though following the incredible acclaim and popularity of Un Día Normal (2002) and Mi Sangre, it's no surprise at this point in time that Juanes is capable of such mastery, not only as a singer/songwriter, but as a guitarist and co-producer. If anything, the distinction to be drawn between La Vida...Es un Ratico and its predecessors is that Juanes has turned his focus inward here, writing more about his own life than the world surrounding it, and also that his songs are increasingly driven by his lyrics rather than his guitar.
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AllMusic Review by Jason Birchmeier
feat: Andrés Calamaro