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Cuéntame Review

by Mariano Prunes

Even if it was not promoted as such, Cuéntame is basically Rosario's follow-up to her 2007 cover album Parte de Mí -- so much so that some of the songs included are rumored to be outtakes from that previous effort. Once again, Rosario chooses a dozen personal favorites -- mostly Spanish pop songs from the '70s and '80s, or songs by the likes of Roberto Carlos or Lucio Battisti that enjoyed popular Spanish versions, and delivers another well-realized tribute. After the surprisingly effective mambo opener "Cuéntame Qué Te Pasó" (known also as "The Speak-Up Mambo," covered by the Manhattan Transfer, among others), a truly beautiful version of Jeanette's "Soy Rebelde" brings the best out of Rosario. Indeed, she positively shines on the melancholic numbers, her flamenco background showing in the exquisite way she can render hurt in song. On the other hand, she is far less convincing as a rock singer -- the less said about her misguided version of Joaquín Sabina's iconic "Pongamos Que Hablo de Madrid" (actually made popular by Rosario's brother Antonio Flores in 1984), the better. Other Spanish artists included are Julio Iglesias' "Tequila" and "Lole y Manuel," which should give a hint as to Cuéntame's stylistic eclecticism, a factor that doesn't always works in its favor. The comparisons with the impressive Parte de Mí are of course unavoidable, as is the conclusion that Cuéntame is probably the lesser of the two. Still, Cuéntame has its share of small treasures, as for instance a special double tribute to the great Mercedes Sosa, who passed away in 2009. Rosario gently tackles two of Sosa's warhorses, Violeta Parra's "Gracias a la Vida" and Julio Numhauser's "La Maza," and while she is not quite the kind of singer that can take a standard and make it her own (as Sosa did), her interpretation results in lovely renditions of two magnificent songs. The album closes with the title track, originally a 1969 hit for Fórmula V, that Rosario recorded as the main theme for the hugely popular TV historical saga Cuéntame Lomo Pasó, currently on its11th season and the likely excuse for this record, as most of these songs squarely belong in the TV show's period and aesthetic.

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