Ana Bárbara

Loca de Amar

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When it comes to evaluating music, many people make the mistake of critiquing the genre or the style more than the album or the artist -- and that sort of idiomatic thinking is as much of a problem in Latin music as it is in English-language material. Someone like Ana Bárbara shouldn't be judged by hardcore mariachi or ranchera standards because that isn't what she is going for; Latin pop and grupero standards need to be applied because that is her area of expertise -- and when pop standards are applied, one has to conclude that Loca de Amar is a solid, if less than essential, addition to her catalog. The Mexican superstar doesn't pretend to reinvent the grupero wheel on glossy, sleek grupero items like "Bailando," "Ya Me Voy" and the catchy single "Loca"; at times, Bárbara sounds like she is going out of her way to recycle past hits such as "Bandido" and "La Trampa." But if Loca de Amar tends to be predictable, it is enjoyably predictable. Without question, Bárbara is great at what she does -- and when it comes to providing enjoyable grupero/Latin pop ear candy, she has reigned supreme in the '90s and 2000s. Occasionally, Loca de Amar will offer some surprises; for example, the acoustic guitar-powered "No Fue Casualidad" has a stripped down, somewhat folk-ish intimacy that isn't what one ordinarily expects from Bárbara. But overall, Loca de Amar adheres to the standard grupero recipe that has been making Bárbara a Latin pop chartbuster since the '90s -- and while casual listeners would be better off with the best-of collection Una Mujer, Un Sueño, Loca de Amar will please the sizable group of Bárbara devotees who insist on hearing everything that she records.

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