Latin Songbird: Mi Alma y Corazón

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With collaborations in her past that would make even the most seasoned veteran stand an inch taller, this Nuyorican songstress has set a high precedent. Having past works written and directed by such greats as Tito Puente and Eddie Palmieri, her fans certainly have their expectations. The record warms slowly, and it takes a few tracks before arriving at the searing heat that has made India the star that she is, but arrive it does. While Mi Alma y Corazón resides happily within the borders of salsa with straight-ahead tunes like "Soy Mujer" and "Razones Tengo," India is not embarrassed to pay a visit to Latin-flavored R&B with, among other tracks, "El Hombre Perfecto," a soaring and stirring melody, no matter the style. Though India herself is a delight to the ears, the arrangements often do not do her justice. "Sedúceme" appears twice on the record (as does almost half the material), the first time in a string-filled sensual salsa, a less than strong opener for this overall quite strong album. Especially evident in the keyboard-soaked intros and overly emotive balladry is that the production got away with itself in places. The strength of India herself more than makes up for any other inconsistencies. Neither the dedicated fan nor the first-timer will be disappointed with this record. India displays the improvisation and burning vocal quality that has made her this generation's heiress to Celia Cruz's throne.

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