Sin Riendas

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Just about any form of Latin music -- be it Afro-Cuban salsa, Brazilian samba, Spanish flamenco, or Argentine tango -- has its hardcore traditionalists as well as its popsters. The popsters might have overtones of Dominican merengue or Venezuelan joropo, but their perspective is a Latin pop perspective -- not the perspective of a traditionalist. And then there are those who have done it both ways, which is what Bronco is still doing on Sin Riendas. No one has ever accused Bronco of being absolute purists when it comes to the norteño/Tex-Mex sound; a lot of their sleek, polished grupero is essentially Latin pop with norteño/Tex-Mex overtones. Saying that Bronco's members have always acted like norteño purists would be like saying that salsa romantica star Marc Anthony is a carbon copy of Oscar de Leon or the late Hector Lavoe or that the Gipsy Kings sound exactly like Paco de Lucía; Anthony and the Gipsy Kings are great at what they do, but their albums are hardly the work of traditionalists -- and similarly, Sin Riendas is dominated by the sort of pop-drenched norteño light that Bronco is famous for. That isn't to say that Bronco cannot handle more straight-ahead norteño -- they've done it in the past, and they continue to do it pleasingly well on "Choche Diet," "Los Compadres," and "Cuando Yo Me Vaya" (all of which underscore the fact that Bronco's members are quite capable of playing more hardcore, more straight-ahead norteño when put their minds to it). But most of the time, pop considerations win out on Sin Riendas, which falls short of essential but is still an enjoyable, if predictable, addition to Bronco's sizable catalog.

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