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Review: Shakira strips it down on 'Sale El Sol'

By Michelle Morgante
Associated Press Writer / October 18, 2010

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Shakira, "Sale El Sol" (Epic)

She's one of the world's most successful performers. She's one of Latin America's biggest stars. And now, on her seventh studio album, the Colombian "rocker chick" is shaking her famous hips out of the packaging that has confined her in her success.

Shakira is looking inside for inspiration and as a result, she is bringing to the world something truly worthy of attention.

The 12 songs, and three bonus tracks, on "Sale El Sol" (The Sun Comes Out) are stripped down, relaxed and allow Shakira's distinctive voice to shine in a way that hasn't been heard in years. On the opening track, the country-guitar flavored "Sale El Sol," Shakira teams her composing talents with Luis Fernando Ochoa, the longtime producing partner who helped her create her 1996 breakout album "Pies Descalzos."

The first single on the album (apart from the World Cup theme song "Waka Waka" released before the summer tournament) is "Loca," a club-tempoed version of the 2008 merengue hit "Loca Con Su Tiguere" by Dominican rapper El Cata, who appears here with Shakira. An English version of the song, featuring British rapper Dizzee Rascal, appears as a bonus track and, impressively, manages to retain a spirit that is lost in some of Shakira's other attempts at language switching.

The tropical influence is spread throughout the album and makes for some of its strongest moments, such as on the hip-grinding "Gordita" with reggaeton star Residente of Calle 13 and on "Addicted to You" and "Rabiosa," where Shakira has created a new merengue-rock hybrid that lays down bare horn riffs over a driving beat in a groove that is irresistible. Simplicity also shapes the rockier cuts, "Devocion" and "Islands," both created with Argentina's Gustavo Cerati and acclaimed Uruguayan lyricist Jorge Drexler.

Overall, "Sale El Sol" is a truer representation of the Shakira who has excited Latin America and propelled her onto the world stage. Perhaps here, with Shakira's raw essence on display, those who don't already know her will understand what the fuss is all about.

CHECK THIS TRACK OUT: Even those who have found little to enjoy in reggaeton will be unable to resist grooving to "Gordita," a super sexy duet that is edgy, funny and sinfully hot. "Vamos a tirarnos los dos del mismo puente/ Sin paracaidas en nuestro mundo volando como los hippies cuando estan fumando." Or, in English, "Let's throw ourselves from the same bridge/ Without parachutes in our world flying, like the hippies when they're smoking."