Following 2010's "Sale el sol", Shakira returns with her new, self-titled album, her first since becoming a mother, first for her new label, and first English since 2009. Her last two English albums, although succesful, proved mixed affairs as far as her personal objective was concerned: "She wolf" saw her sacrificing her latin flavour in favour of the glossy dancefloor diva that she transformed into; and the super-ambitious 2-disc "Oral fixation" opus nearly buried her vision underneath - not her clothes but because of - its sheer volume. Here, with a variety of genres on display, and a nuanced balance of different musical styles, Shakira is enriching her sound furthermore while keeping intact her distinguishable roots, as she addresses the joy of new love from both her child and partner, a reminder that beneath the global superstar there is heart and soul.
Anthemic dance opener "Dare"'s mix of electronic backgrounds with brazilian beats, the explosive duet with Rihanna "Can't remember to forget you", the superb new single "Empire", an unlikely rock ballad, the beautiful retro-feel of "You don't care about me", "Cut me deep"'s reggae / ska rhythm, "Spotlight"'s power guitars, the delicately string-ladden "Broken record", "23"'s romantic minimalism, the universal love song "The one thing", and the closing "Loca por ti", homage to partner G. Pique, are all solid pop numbers. This new offering may lack the lyrical depth and thematology of previous albums where she exhibited a unique flair for writing, still it is a lovingly made concentrated product, radiating confidence and maturity. She is a pop star who can pull something great together through force of personality, a mighty achievement no doubt. Her hips don't lie, neither her songs.