Shakira, "Sale el Sol"
Shakira's album material seems to strike a much purer chord in Spanish. Her latest project, "Sale el Sol," is no exception. It's a mix of uptempo dance tracks based on traditional Latin rhythms like merengue, hard-kicking rock tracks and earthier rock ballads that all told are infinitely more memorable and unique than the singer's baffling 2009 set, "She Wolf." "Sale el Sol" opens with the evocative and hopeful title track dedicated to Argentine musician Gustavo Cerati. Wistful and beautiful, it highlights a more pared-down Shakira, as does the acoustic "Lo Que Más," sung simply over solo piano and strings, a reminder of Shakira's versatility. At the other extreme is the aggressive current single "Loca" (featuring El Cata), a fast-paced pop merengue that goes overboard on the moaning and gasping but still manages to be fun. Those who yearn for Shakira the rocker can get their fill with "Tu Boca" or "Devoción," or they can chuckle to "Gordita," where Calle 13's René Pérez says, "I also liked you when you were chubby." Those days, obviously, are long gone, but "Sale el Sol" manages to bridge the divide between the old and new Shakira with a spark that keeps you listening to the very end.