Último Acto

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Although Último Acto is technically Vicentico's sixth solo studio album, it would be more precise to call it a greatest-hits compilation in disguise. A common practice for major artists, usually when they need to fulfill a contractual obligation or their label needs a glossy calling card to break into a new market, this is one of those albums made of newly recorded versions of the artist's favorites -- which frequently seem to coincide with their most popular songs. Produced once again by multiple Latin Grammy-winner Cachorro López and recorded in New York, L.A., Nashville, Kingston, Santiago de Chile, and Buenos Aires with the help of A-level session players and celebrity guests, Último Acto repackages the best of Vicentico in a shimmering and tasteful new envelope. The track list is heavily balanced toward his 2010s material, with nine out of fourteen selections coming from the excellent Solo Un Momento (2010) and Vicentico 5 (2012), and there's a 2013 cover of "Puro Teatro" for the TV series Farsantes, which leaves four tracks to represent his first three studio albums (it should be noted, however, that Vicentico had already released a greatest-hits collection in 2008, which summarized precisely those three albums). Último Acto is enhanced by the inclusion of four new songs, the first single, "Esclavo de Tu Amor," "Solo Otra Vez," "Las Estrellas," and "Último Acto," and of course by the presence of Willie Nelson in "Solo un Momento," Sly & Robbie in "Las Estrellas," Our Latin Thing in "Algo Contigo," "Culpable," and "Los Caminos de la Vida," Tex-Mex outfit Intocable in "Viento" and "Cobarde," and actress Valeria Bertucelli (who is also Vicentico's wife) in "No Te Apartes de Mí," reprising her own role from the original studio version. So, how do the new versions compare to the originals? Neither favorably nor unfavorably. One could argue that this time around, the songs are better recorded, performed, and sung, but in truth there are no drastic changes, no genre overhauls, and no sudden tempo alterations. Sure, the arrangements are slightly different -- most tracks now have strings -- but the overall feel of a song is still pretty much the same as it was before, which is not a bad thing, as Vicentico has evolved into an engaging, confident vocalist, and he's amassed a considerable number of truly fine songs, many on display here. Último Acto offers a good overview of his solo career and aptly showcases his successful transformation into a seasoned crooner inspired by the sounds of the '70s, both Latin and American; he's equally comfortable with bolero, son, reggae, country, pop, and singer/songwriter stylings. While Vicentico's longtime fans may feel shortchanged by this hybrid release, Último Acto works very well as a greatest-hits package or as an introduction to his music to new audiences, which is probably what the release of this collection set out to accomplish, anyway.

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