Ricky Martin

Música + Alma + Sexo

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The last time Ricky Martin released a record -- way back in 2005, a good six years before Musica + Alma + Sexo -- the Puerto Rican singer was half a decade removed from his last blast of crossover success and still closeted. In 2011, he’s one year removed from coming out and even further removed from the place he used to occupy in pop culture, that of a handsome, dexterous crossover artist with a flair for frivolous club/dance cuts and adult contemporary crossovers. Theoretically, this loosening of expectations would give him some freedom to roam on Musica + Alma + Sexo, and it does to the extent that he does not feel compelled to devote the record to the English language. His two English cuts, the Joss Stone duet “The Best Thing About Me Is You” and “Shine,” are buried at the end of the record, the rest of the album sung in Spanish -- but that doesn’t necessarily mean that Musica has a distinctly Latin lilt in its rhythms. This is clean, gleaming dance and lite-pop, all shepherded by Desmond Child, the old studio pro responsible from for co-writing hits for Kiss, Aerosmith, Bon Jovi, and Cher, not to mention Ricky’s own “Livin’ la Vida Loca.” Child helps steer Musica + Alma + Sexo toward a high thread-count upscale pop that knows no borders. It’s all pleasant enough and Martin has enough effortless charm to keep things light and sometimes even engaging, but it has no hook, no single, no signature style to lead a listener in, either for a first listen or second spin.

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