The former Kumbia Kings singer takes a strong step forward in developing his own identity as a pop/R&B artist with this debut.

The former Kumbia Kings singer takes a strong step forward in developing his own identity as a pop/R&B artist with this debut. Free from the Kumbia Kings group structure, Frankie J finally gets to breathe, recording an album full of the melodic R&B he's always wanted to do. He injects strong emotions and vivid imagery into such songs as the title track, "We Still," and top 40 single "Don't Wanna Try." Producers Happy Perez and Jaime Galvez's frugal but elegant backdrop features acoustic guitar, piano, and quietly muscular backbeats that give even the slow jams a pulse. Dance fans have not been forgotten. Frankie J generates dancefloor heat on a pair of tracks featuring rapper Gemini (the Latin-tinged "Just the Way" and "Won't Change"). Born in Tijuana, Mexico, and raised in San Diego, Frankie J represents a fast-growing group of bicultural Latinos that loves fusing R&B and hip-hop; it's an audience that's likely to rally around this promising debut.—RB