El Rock de Mi Pueblo

How far can you take vallenato? Carlos Vives appears to take the Colombian-rooted music as far as it can go, aggressively merging it with blues and rock.

How far can you take vallenato? Carlos Vives appears to take the Colombian-rooted music as far as it can go, aggressively merging it with blues and rock. The resulting album is more folk-based, yet more modern, than Vives' past recordings. Perhaps this is because most instrumental parts were recorded live—or because Vives' vocals are an integral part of the ensemble. It's certainly different, and it can work both ways: Some may find it too far out, others enticingly adventuresome. Either way, it's impossible to dismiss. Even when the melody is lacking (the single "Como Tú"), sheer rhythmic excitement carries the track. Conversely, the romantic "Voy a Olvidarme de Mí" has a wholly raw edge. Most of "El Rock" can be identified with something Vives has done before, but with this artist that's not a minus.—LC