Amanda Miguel

Piedra de Afilar

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Amanda Miguel's pleasant Piedra de Afilar plays like an '80s CD, but not in the way most backward-looking discs do. Instead of coming off as a throwback, it sounds genuinely derived from the era: synthesizers swirl, twinkly chimes signal the onset of quiet singing on its way to turning fierce, and a syrupy duet -- "Siempre Fuimos Dos" -- sounds like something Barbra Streisand and Barry Gibb might have made a stab at had they sung in Spanish. Anachronistic leanings aside, what Miguel again demonstrates here is that hers are the pipes of a purebred diva. She channels the effusive outpourings of Irene Cara at her best on "Es un Loco Amor," leans in a Toni Braxton-inspired R&B direction on "Retrasando el Adios," and seems to be holed up with Celine Dion somewhere in Vegas for the vocal-chord snapper that is "Se Paro." Overall, a striking if overly sentimental effort -- should Miguel one day decide to drop the gooey stuff in favor of more interesting fare, her full-throttle delivery could secure her Shakira-caliber fame among adult English-speaking listeners.

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