Leveraging the runaway success of her previous album, Let It Loose, Gloria Estefan furthered her indulgence in spare, moody love ballads and club-ready dance-pop jams for Cuts Both Ways and scored herself another Top Ten album. The transformation of Gloria Estefan the lead singer of Miami Sound Machine to Gloria Estefan the pop star is complete here. While Let It Loose had been the first Miami Sound Machine album to co-bill Estefan (that is, "Gloria Estefan and Miami Sound Machine"), Cuts Both Ways is billed simply to the star herself. And it plays that way, too, with a heavy reliance on Gloria-spotlighting ballads -- roughly half the album, discounting the album-ending Spanish-language versions. Miami Sound Machine's patented Latin dance-lite style is sidelined a bit, for better and for worse. Sure, "Ay, Ay, I," "Say," "Oy Mi Canto," and "Get on Your Feet" are all club-ready with their big late-'80s synth-drum patterns, but only "Get on Your Feet" comes close to matching the majesty of past club hits like "Conga," "Rhythm Is Gonna Get You," and "1-2-3." And more tellingly, there aren't any straight pop songs here like "Bad Boy" or "Betcha Say That." Cuts Both Ways goes only both ways -- either ballad or jam -- which makes for a very up-and-down listening experience as the tempos alternate drastically from one song to the next. All this over-analysis aside, there are some super songs here, namely "Here We Are," "Say," "Oy Mi Canto," "Don't Wanna Lose You," and "Get on Your Feet." That's a lot of super-ness for one album, even if on the whole Cuts Both Ways seems overly calculated and sadly foreshadows the audience displacement that Estefan would experience in subsequent years as she drifted even further away from the unabashed Miami Sound Machine-style dance-pop of yesteryear. Even so, Cuts Both Ways is one of her best and, without question, was one of her most successful, clear affirmation that Estefan had indeed become one of the biggest pop stars in the whole wide world as the '80s came to a close.
AllMusic Review by Jason Birchmeier