Ricardo Arjona

Solo [Bonus CD]

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Guatemalan singer/songwriter Ricardo Arjona has a reputation as a protest singer, and he's an artist who's successfully married music with political lyrics. On this release, which also includes a DVD of personal and concert footage, he revisits some earlier material with an attitude that's probably best called unplugged -- but it's certainly not solo. Everything starts of wonderfully, with the airy, layered choral vocals on "Te Conozco," but quickly goes downhill, and Arjona opts for an acoustic approach that highlights a mainstream pop approach that takes away the sting of his lyrics. At times sounding simpering -- think variations on Dan Hill's "Sometimes When We Touch" in both melody and arrangement -- and simplistic, it's redeemed at times, but those moments are fleeting. If this is a bid to be taken with a certain maturity, it fails. But if it's a bid to find a wider pop audience (and the cover shot shows longer hair and very masculine stubble, rebranding Arjona as a pop idol) then it might just succeed.

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