A Quien Quiera Escuchar [Bonus Tracks]

by: Ricky Martin

To date, Ricky Martin's recording career during the 21st century has not only been sparse, it's yielded mixed results. While 2000's English-language Sound Loaded had some great tracks (the single "She Bangs" among them), it was overly weighted toward ballads. 2011's Desmond Child-produced Música + Alma + Sexo seemed to leave Latin pop on the cutting room floor in favor of generic, Anglo-style dance tunes. A Quien Quiera Escuchar is the first album since 1998's Vuelve that contains no English-language tracks. The album was produced and arranged by Julio Reyes Copello with the exception of "Adios" -- the first single and opening track -- and "La Mordita," which were helmed by Yotuel Romero (ex-Orishas) and Antonio Rayo (who are also parts of his songwriting team). "Adios" is a stomping dancefloor banger co-written by Martin with Rao, Yotuel, and Jesse Shatkin that crams together everything from cumbia and flamenco to baillie funk and Middle Eastern- and Israeli-inflected house music. By contrast, second single "Disparo al Corazon" is a sparse, wrenching ballad introduced by piano, cello, and electric guitar; its slippery use of the tipple adds a folk element, and the soaring strings frame Martin's soulful vocal as he digs deep within the heartbroken lyric. "Isla Bella" is another ballad but this one is midtempo. It's gorgeously constructed with layers of hand drums, acoustic guitars, and horns, and breaks into a minor-key flamenco-tinged stepper in the bridge. "Náufrago" and "Mátame Otra Vez" are romantic, jazzy, Latin soul tunes that offer Martin's best vocal performances (à la Marvin Gaye) on the set. "La Mordita" features a guest appearance from Yotuel. It weds salsa, cumbia, and reggaeton with a soccer chant in the bridge. "Cuanto Me Acuerdo de Ti" is a steamy tropical groover with a beautiful muted trumpet break to underscore Martin's emotional vocal. "Nada" is an anthemic pop bolero with stacked acoustic guitars galloping under Martin's soaring vocal, buoyed by well-placed banjo, ukulele, and piano. A Quien Quiera Escuchar is solid from top to bottom, it's chock-full of great songs, production, and driving dancefloor grooves that come from all over the globe. [A Quien Quiera Escuchar was also released with three bonus tracks: acoustic versions of "Mátame Otra Vez," "Naufrago," and "Perdóname."] ~ Thom Jurek

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