On his last studio album, "El Alma al Aire," Alejandro Sanz was guilty of meandering to a fault.

On his last studio album, "El Alma al Aire," Alejandro Sanz was guilty of meandering to a fault. With his newest project, Sanz again takes his time to get to the point but makes us enjoy every step of the way. As its title states, "No Es lo Mismo" is not the same; not the same Latin pop and not the same Sanz. More Flamenco-based and far catchier than its immediate predecessor, the album fluctuates between the eminently commercial rhythmic title track, which boasts a rock-anthem chorus, to the intensely personal "Lo Diré Bajito," an almost improvisatory ballad set over symphonic strings and piano. In between, Sanz experiments with hip-hop ("Try to Save Your S'ong" featuring guest rapper GQ) and Cuban son and trova ("Labana," a heartbreaking homage to those who flee Cuba and those they leave behind). This is an exquisite album, both in concept and execution. Even the meanderings are worthwhile.—LC

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