Donde Estan Los Ladrones?

Sony Latin

Colombian singer Shakira has been writing songs since she was 8. Eleven years later, she captured the attention of Latin American listeners with her 1996 debut album, Pies Descalzos. Her passionate and versatile voice, an enthusiastic personality and captivating figure, were factors responsible for her success. Sales on Pies Descalzos have surpassed the three million mark, selling close to a million copies in the United States and Puerto Rico alone, making Shakira shine as the best-selling female artist in Latin America. Now, at age 21, and with the release of her highly anticipated sophomore album Donde Estan Los Ladrones?, Shakira takes her artistry to a higher level, solidifying the path established by her previous effort.

Donde Estan Los Ladrones? proves that Shakira has matured as an artist. Not only did she write or co-write every song in the album, she co-produced each one of the 11 tracks. To secure success, she enlisted mastermind studio wizard Emilio Estefan as executive producer of the album. The result is a superb production where the catalyst characteristics showcased in her previous disc reach even farther. In rock tracks like the charged “Si Te Vas,” the angry-yet-soft alterna-pop “Inevitable,” and the dark “Octavo Día,” the guitar riffs take an edgier attitude. Energy-packed dance/pop tunes like the pulsating ranchera-mets-dance “Ciega Sordomuda” and the captivating Arabic-rave “Ojos Asi” will definitively receive club action. Ballads like the soothing combination of nueva trova and bossa nova in “Moscas en la Casa” and the outstanding string-oriented “Tu” display an exquisite delicacy. While she presents her standard dance/pop charm in songs like “No Creo” and “Que Vuelvas,” Shakira also managed to introduce a few surprises, like the country-goes-pop that serves as name for the album, and the smooth psychedelic rock “Sombra de Ti.” To add to her progress, Shakira sings with more attitude in this album, constantly daring her vocal range in an angry-but-pleasing manner.

Donde Estan Los Ladrones? is an achievement in Shakira’s career, where she seems to please herself instead of a producer or a record label. Her improvements as songwriter and producer are evident, while her fascinating vocal capabilities have expanded. The alternative-music direction she takes proves to be right for a sophomore album, while her usual club-oriented tunes and fervent ballads have gained stamina. Donned Estan Los Ladrones? not only cements Shakira’s career as an international Latin pop star, it has all the required ingredients to surpass cultural barriers in the appreciation for a delightful singer and the excellent music only she knows how to play. Sony Music, 550 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10022

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