Dias Felices

by: Cristian Castro

It isn't hard to understand why label execs become excited over the prospect of crossing Latin popsters over to non-Latin audiences by encouraging them to record in English (Shakira, Ricky Martin). Many Latin artists have great hooks, and the only thing that keeps them from crossing over -- in many cases -- is the language barrier. But Latin popsters certainly don't need the English language to be legitimate, and there are plenty of Spanish-speaking Cristian Castro fans all over Spain and Latin America who will acquire Dias Felices (Happy Days) and be glad that the Mexican star sings en español throughout the album. This late 2005 release doesn't have any help from Kike Santander, the mega-producer/songwriter who played a big role in the success of some of Castro's previous releases. Nonetheless, Dias Felices still has a lot going for it even though the disc is slightly inconsistent. Castro fares well on the moodier, more haunting items such as "Dinamita," "Abrazado a Tu Piel," and "Sin Tu Amor," but the album's standout track is "Simone" -- a sweet, medium-tempo gem that underscores Castro's Beatles/Elton John/Billy Joel influence despite the fact that he is singing and writing in another language. Meanwhile, the slick, middle-of-the-road ballads "Amor Total" and "Si Ya No Estas Aquí" aren't as memorable as "Simone," but they're pleasant enough. Dias Felices (which is more Latin pop than rock en español but still has its share of pop/rock appeal) won't go down in history as Castro's most essential release, but it's a generally respectable demonstration of the fact that he can do some worthwhile things even when Kike Santander's Midas touch is nowhere to be found. ~ Alex Henderson

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