Rubén Blades

Rosa de los Vientos

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Rubén Blades and collaborators offer up Rosa de los Vientos, perhaps more full of mystery and folklore than any previous project. Named for the nautical icon separating north from south, east from west, the album is aptly titled for Blades' use of searching, obscure harmonies and his wide-open sonic landscape. Thanks to the tasteful balance of electronic and acoustic sound sources, the timbre of the record is warm, yet simultaneously otherworldly. Like any Blades album, the production is meticulous, the arrangements winding and delightful, and the concept ambitious -- all of which point to a healthy budget. Don't worry Sony International, you definitely got your money's worth. There are few artists in the recording industry who are so consistently capable of such golden results. Stylistically, Rosa de los Vientos favors the Blades trademark rhumba-fusion, super-literate salsa, and even a little funk for fun. The unique element is the healthy dash of cumbia fueled by the sly, emotive accordion of Gustavo Patiño. The song "Amor Mudo," the record's title cut, and particularly the darkly delicious "Eres Mi Canción" feature the style beloved by Central and South Americans that is seldom played in salsa circles. Though the idiom is new to their playlist, Blades and crew sound natural as can be. If Blades must journey to create records like Rosa de los Vientos, one hopes that he never finds his way home.

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