Solamente Tú

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The majority of country fans don't speak fluent Spanish, but if they did, many of them could easily develop a strong appreciation of regional Mexican music. Lyrically, country and regional Mexican music have a great deal in common -- and prominent country themes (heartbreak, romantic disillusionment, troubled or failed relationships, loneliness, drinking to forget the pain) are also prominent regional Mexican themes. Duelo's Solamente Tú ("Only You") is a norteño album with country-rock and Americana influences -- not a country album in the strict sense -- but if one translated the lyrics from Spanish into English and changed the norteño arrangements into straight-ahead honky tonk, this 2010 release would make a very memorable country album. Indeed, if Randy Travis were reincarnated as a regional Mexican singer in the next century, it wouldn't be hard to imagine him tackling highly sentimental, melancholy offerings such as "Voy a Cambiar por Ti" ("I'm Going to Change for You"), "Te Amo y Te Odio" ("I Love You and I Hate You"), "Mil Deseos" ("One Thousand Desires"), and "La Ley del Desprecio" ("The Law of Contempt"). There is a considerable amount of melancholia on Solamente Tú, and it is quite comparable to the sort of working-class melancholia that has long been an indispensable part of the country experience. Romantic love is depicted as a very rocky road on Solamente Tú, but while Duelo's songs express the feelings of people who are having a hard time living with love, they also speak for those who don't want to live without it, either. Of course, norteño isn't always about romantic love; many norteño bands are famous for providing corridos (Mexican folk ballads) that deal with political or social topics (definite parallels can be drawn between outlaw country and the controversial narcocorridos). But there are no corridos of any type here; Duelo prefer to address the ups and downs of romantic love, and they do it with a lot of charm and warmth on the appealing Solamente Tú.

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