Colombian rocker and activist Juanes has celebrated many milestones in his 20-year career that include six Grammys, 23 Latin Grammys, and being named by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people on the planet. On Más Futuro Que Pasado ("More Future Than Past"), his eighth studio album, Juanes explores traditional folk forms and rhythms (cumbia, vallenato, guasca) alongside rock, hip hop, and R&B. Though he normally works alone, this 13-song set features a host of collaborators in front of and behind the microphone. Juanes co-produced most of the date with current charting producers including Andres & Mauricio (the crew behind "Despacito"), Mosty, Rafael Arcaute, Tainy, Luis Salazar, Ily Wonder, DVLP, Sky, and others. Further, the set's advance singles have been collaborations with established stars Sebastian Yatra, Alessia Cara, and Christian Nodal, while other cuts feature up and coming talents.
Opener "Aurora" features the emerging rapper Crudo Means Raw celebrating his and Juanes' shared native city of Medellín with dubby reggaeton beats that rub against chunky rock & roll guitar as Crudo lands his rhymes in the pocket against Juanes sweet tenor singing. The use of marimbas, hand percussion, and loops and bleeps draws the listener right into its steamy magic. "Tequila," with Christian Nodal, is a song mourning lost love framed by fat cumbia beats, nylon-string guitars, accordion, and sweet vocal harmonies. "Mala Manera" is a pop guasca with fingerpicked acoustic and electric guitars, rim shot backbeats, and swirling sonic effects in the backdrop as Juanes delivers a bittersweet farewell to a lover who has trouble with the truth. Current single and video "Bonita" features Sebastian Yatra in an infectious fusion of vallenato and reggaeton rhythms framing a midtempo soul groove. The marriage of cumbia and vallenato in the title track is an anthem to committed love that looks squarely at the horizon, not in the rearview. Its hook is irresistible and Juanes' guitar break is one of the sexiest things on the album. "Mia Mia," with Fuego, is a steamy meld of reggaeton and cumbia with staggered kick drums, piercing, melodic leads, and swampy organs and keys. The skittering, eros-drenched cumbia of the first advance single, "Pa' Dentro" (a Latin Grammy winner), remains a highlight, while "Querer Mejor" with Alessia Cara is driven by a mutant Wurlitzer and sweeping lead guitar atop a steamy cumbia beat. The two singers entwine passionately with maximum panache. (There is also a Spanglish version.) Más Futuro Que Pasado is a hooky, rhythm-heavy study in why Juanes remains a prime mover in the mercurial world of Latin popular music. He is keenly aware of his strengths and is in command of them. He places them at the service of a mind open enough to learn from others. Two decades into his career, Juanes remains a musical seeker; he carefully integrates what attracts him into his own trademark style, creating a sound at once instantly recognizable and bracingly future forward.