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She Wolf CD
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There’s much to like about diminutive Columbian singer Shakira (Isabel Mebarak Ripoll), best known to this day for 2001’s breakthrough Whenever, Wherever and her global hit of 2006, Hips Don’t Lie. As beyond these chart-conquering smashes she’s often explored some truly mind-boggling pop territories, deep-drilling for veins of inspiration absolutely alien to so many of her peers.
She Wolf is Shakira’s third English language album, though it features plenty of free-flowing Spanish vocal work, too. Años Luz is a firecracker affair, rattling military percussion underpinning some urgently delivered lyrics, and the synth throb at Loba’s heart is reminiscent of Timbaland’s cutting-edge backings for Justin Timberlake and Nelly Furtado.
The aforementioned brace are, actually, translations (or originals, if you prefer) of English efforts: Why Wait and the title track respectively. While there’s perhaps a greater sense of passion in songs playing out in her native tongue, Shakira’s appealing tenacity for grappling with the hugest of hooks isn’t tempered at all when she switches to English.
She Wolf – the album’s opening track and lead single – is the kind of stone cold classic of the pop world that comes along only once in several full moons. “I’m starting to feel just a little abused / like a coffee machine in an office,” she sings, and while the lyrics would sound ridiculous in the mouths of, say, The Saturdays, here they’re a clarion call for rescue. Not that our protagonist needs any help: she might not literally be morphing into a werewolf, but this neglected lover is going to get her claws into her cold other half one way or another.
But the darkness that creeps in from the edges of this record is always kept at bay by playful and inventive instrumentation and quirky wordplay from the singer, at her best when making like Mariah Carey after a quarter-bottle of tequila and a weekend lost in the rainforest: you sense she could hit the highest of notes if she wanted, but a deliberate weariness keeps her histrionics in check. And with the classy Rihanna-echoing Did It Again, the staccato Latino strains of Good Stuff and the punchy Wyclef Jean duet Spy – featuring weird baby babbling/Roísín Murphy-style vocals – on her side here, one can conclude She Wolf is perhaps the most enjoyably varied pop album of 2009. --Mike Diver
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But the «it»-factor isn't enough; you've got to have a distinctive voice and catchy songs, too. Fortunately, both components has always been Shakira's trademark, although, from an objective standpoint, she does the bad habit of muddling her songs in a mix of eclectic and exotic sounds, along with mixing rythms from ethnic folk music. And in this crazy music world where pale and generic electronic/dance music is the big thing, it seems to affect almost all of the international, female artists. And now, unfortunately, it also has affected Shakira.
It has been four years since her last album. As a fan, you always hope to see a positive result, although it's hard for a artis to surpass herself during many albums. So the question is, has Shakira outdone herself on her latest album? The answer is no - but still with a doubt.
«She Wolf» isn't a terrible album, but it does appear as muddled as a whole. Only a few songs does distinguish themselves; First out the main single «She Wolf», which I didn't cared for at first, but has grown on me. Next is the energetic and electronic «Men In This Sound», which melodically resembles one of her previous songs «Las de la Intuicion». The third one is the fast-paced «Mon Amour», which is influenced by some rock elements. «Gypsy» has also a sweet and catchy tune, although it's far from her most memorable song.
The rest of the album isn't much to brag about. None of the other songs are exactly bad, but they appear as cold, calculated and uninteresting. Once again, Shakira is mixing different sounds on her songs, but without making good and memorable melodies. Neither does Wyclef Jean increase the quality on their duet «Spy». But on the positive side, Shakira's English is better than ever, but is it really necessary to have her Spanish versions of her singles on the same album? Why doesn't she just release a Spanish album?
With that consideration aside, «She Wolf» (which is a strange, English formulatiosn) comes off as a mild dissapointment. Not exactly horrendous, but not exactly likeable at her previous albums. It would have been nice if she putted more spirit and heart into the whole album, instead of attempting at a half-calculated and polished album. Let's cross our fingers and let's hope that her next album will be better.
+ She Wolf is very cohesive, every song is different, but the songs all go together as one album.
+ The lyrics are smart, passionate and really catchy.
+ Every song is so catchy and brilliant, they could all be selected as singles.
- The album can feel a bit too short at times, only one song reaches four minutes.
So five stars, but close to four stars.
Gone are the protest, social commentary and love songs that made her previous albums a joy to listen to, and instead we have an album where Shakira sings about for the first time about sex although in not such explicit terms.
"She Wolf" is also a record that is really made for dancing, packed with the occasional electronic beat ("She Wolf", "Men in This Town") and the more frequent reggaeton based sound, which as Brits, we aren't particularly used to. So fans of the lyrically poetic Shakira of old will find this a frustrating and difficult listen as the "old" Shakira songs on this record are few and far between.
Shakira herself has noted the dance influence was her intention for this album, and with the UK version of this album at just ten tracks long, the whole effort clocks up just over half an hour in listening time - when other world regions have Spanish versions of some tracks ("Did It Again" and "Long Time") or even better, another track ("Give It Up to Me").
Yes, it's very well executed (the Neptunes' production does sound fresh here), but it may take you a while to muster any kind of emotion towards it (if any) at all. I want to love this as much as I do her other albums, but unfortunately, "She Wolf" has not bitten me at all.
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