Charlie Cruz

Ven a Mi

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Charlie Cruz's fifth record and final project for the WEA International record label marks the final chapter in an unadulterated pop-salsa career. From Ven a Mi, Cruz would move on to Sony International and then to Univision in search of a musical home that would allow for a more satisfying label relationship, a more distinct artistic voice. This 2003 release features a strong and clean, if somewhat nondescript, pop-salsa sound. With a processed feel that leaves the record sounding a bit cold, Ven a Mi charted respectably well, but did not make a strong impression with fans or critics. Cruz himself sounds good, if somewhat squashed in between ultra clean horn lines and a partially synthesized percussion section. Though the album features some very heavy salsa talent, including producer Ramon B. Sanchez, percussionists Bobby Allende and Tito de Gracias, and vocalist Ray Sepúlveda, the talent of the individual performers doesn't shine through as much as would be desirable. There are some interesting elements, including the use of Afro-Boricua influences that live and grow slightly off the beaten path of pop-salsa. Packed to the brim with club-ready tracks, Ven a Mi is a fun goodbye to the plastic salsa world before Cruz embarks on a quest for a more expressive identity.

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