Previewing new albums from Juanes, Thalia, Marc Anthony, Bryan Ferry, and more.
On Any Other 'Day'
It's a big week for Latin artists, with new albums on the way from Juanes and Thalia. Juanes' "Un Dia Normal" (Surco/Universal) is the follow-up to "Fijate Bien," the title track of which won three Latin Grammys last year. First single "A Dios le Pido" has already spent several weeks at No. 1 on the Colombian singles chart and is No. 17 on Billboard's Latin Pop survey this week.
The new album includes the track "Fotografia," a duet with Canadian vocalist Nelly Furtado. On "A Dios le Pido," the artist reflects on his generally more upbeat approach to life after "Fijate Bien." "What I live, I give back in the songs," he says. "And my vision of life has changed. And life is beautiful, and one must take advantage of it. For example, not having my mother and my family with me is hard, but now, instead of getting down about it, I feel happiness, and I want to write a song that shouts that."
"Thalia," the latest EMI Latin set from the Mexican soap-opera star, former teeny bopper, and Latin pop diva of the same name, has received a huge boost from the single "Tu Y Yo," which is No. 3 on Billboard's Hot Latin Tracks chart. The album includes 10 Spanish tracks and three sung in English, which will introduce her to that language's market in advance of her eventual English-language debut.
"It's been a very relaxed, unpretentious process," Thalia says. "It's been a marvelous personal encounter where it was about simply letting things flow and taking them as they came, without so much starch and fuss. It's not that I'm not doing pop anymore, but the tendency of everyone who worked on the album was to go toward [more rock-oriented] sounds, and it feels incredible."
He 'Needs' You
Latin superstar Marc Anthony's second English language album, "Mended," arrives this week via Columbia. The set comes on the heels of last November's Spanish-language album "Libre," but is his first English set since 1999's "Marc Anthony," which spawned the global smash hit "I Need To Know." Anthony begins a North American tour July 6 in Mansfield, Mass.
The 13-track "Mended," co-produced by the artist with Cory Rooney, was originally intended for a January release but was pushed back to fine-tune the tracklist. The album features "Tragedy," co-written by matchbox twenty frontman Rob Thomas and originally planned as the first single.
But following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the U.S., Anthony was uncomfortable promoting it, even though it had nothing to do with tragedy itself. Instead, the first single is "I Need You," which is No. 4 on Billboard's Adult Contemporary chart this week.
As she celebrates her 25th anniversary in the music industry, Amy Grant returns to her roots this week with the A&M/Word Records release "Legacy . . . Hymns & Faith." The 14-track collection features such standards as "Softly and Tenderly," "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing," and "Holy, Holy, Holy," as well as four new tunes. Co-produced by Brown Bannister and Grant's husband, Vince Gill, the project precedes a new pop album slated for September, tentatively titled "Simple Things."
Grant wrote two of the four new songs: "What You Already Own" and "Do You Remember the Time." The latter was co-written with Gill and Keith Thomas, who is producing the upcoming pop record. Gill also contributed "The River's Gonna Keep on Rolling." The fourth new tune is a cover of MercyMe's "I Can Only Imagine," which was named song of the year last month at the Dove Awards.
The album closes with an exuberant version of "Marching to Zion," featuring a cast of Grant's longtime friends singing and her father, Burton Grant, saying a prayer. "I asked my dad if he would lead us in a prayer before we sang," Grant recalls. "Vince was in the control room, and when he heard me say that, he motioned to the engineer to hit record ... When I went in to hear the mix, I heard my dad's prayer, and I got the biggest lump in my throat."
Roxy Music frontman Bryan Ferry's "Frantic" arrives this week via Virgin on the heels of top-10 debuts in the U.K. (No. 6), Greece (No. 9), Austria (No. 8), and Norway (No. 6). It's also positioned within the top-30 in Switzerland, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Denmark. "It's not like I'm the teen idol du jour or even remotely trendy," he says. "Yet people seem genuinely interested in me and in this album. It's extraordinarily gratifying for an artist -- especially one who has been at it for as long as I've been."
The songs here revel in vibrant, fairly no-frills instrumental frameworks. Ferry's smoky baritone is in top form, and he flexes it to maximum effect over songs that range from straight-ahead rockers ("Cruel," "Nobody Loves Me") to richly textured ambient-pop ("Fool for Love," "Hiroshima"). A smattering of cleverly conceived covers (Leadbelly's "Goodnight Irene," Bob Dylan's "Don't Think Twice") are added for quirky measure.
"It's fun for me to go back to some of the great songs of all time and re-experience them all over again," Ferry says. "In the case of 'Goodnight Irene,' for example, it was an act of homage. Leadbelly is the first person I remember ever hearing on the radio as a young boy. It had a huge effect on me. He had such yearning and longing in his voice. The love of the blues has stayed with me ever since."
Additional titles hitting stores this week include:
-- The multi-label, 20-track "Off the Hook" compilation, featuring such recent hits as Jennifer Lopez's "I'm Real (Murder Remix featuring Ja Rule)," Aaliyah's "More Than a Woman," and Mr. Cheeks' "Lights, Camera, Action!" (Columbia).
-- The first album since 1993 from alternative rock favorites the Breeders, "Title TK" (Elektra).
-- Crowded House principal Neil Finn's "One All" (Nettwerk), retitled from its international release as "One Nil" and featuring a handful of new songs.
-- Motley Crue drummer Tommy Lee's "Never a Dull Moment" (MCA).
-- The first batch of releases in ECM's ":rarum" series, with anthologies from Keith Jarrett, Jan Garbarek, Chick Corea, Gary Burton, Bill Frisell, the Art Ensemble of Chicago, Terje Rypdal, and Bobo Stenson.
-- The self-titled MCA debut from Boxcar Racer, featuring Blink-182's Tom DeLonge and Travis Barker.
-- A new album from Grateful Dead principal Phil Lesh & Friends, "There and Back Again" (Lapis/Columbia).
-- A retrospective from U.K. alternative rock outfit The The, "45 RPM: The Singles of the The" (Columbia/Legacy).
-- A compilation of tracks from prior Pete Townshend rarities collections, "Scooped" (Redline).
-- Punk-inflected pop act Goldfinger's "Open Your Eyes" (Mojo/Jive).
-- A cappella jazz group Take 6's "Beautiful World" (Warner Bros.).
-- New albums from hard rock veteran Danzig ("777: I Luciferi," Spitfire) and Superjoint Ritual ("Use Once & Destroy," Sanctuary), the latter group led by Pantera's Phil Anselmo.
-- Modern rock act Something Corporate's "Leaving Through the Window" (MCA).
-- Country rock outfit the Flatlanders' "Now Again" (New West).
-- Soul legend Teddy Pendergrass' "From Teddy With Love" (Razor & Tie).
-- Veteran U.K. rock combo Pulp's "We Love Life" (Sanctuary/Rough Trade).
-- Solo projects from Modest Mouse frontman Isaac Brook (Ugly Casanova's "Sharpen Your Teeth," Sub Pop) and Helium leader Mary Timony ("The Golden Dove," Matador).
-- Hollywood's "Undercover Brother" soundtrack, featuring tracks from Snoop Dogg and James Brown.
-- Reissues of composer Randy Newman's "Good Old Boys," "Ragtime," and "Sail Away" (Warner Archives/Rhino).
-- Reissues of seminal California roots/punk outfit X's "Ain't Love Grand," "Fun in the New World," and "See How We Are?" (Rhino).