De Corazón

Following the international success of 2000's Yo No Fui, Pedro Fernández returns more Mexican—and more accessible—than ever with an album that often taps into older, rarely record

Following the international success of 2000's Yo No Fui, Pedro Fernández returns more Mexican—and more accessible—than ever with an album that often taps into older, rarely recorded repertoire, as well as new material, all arranged with respect for tradition and with an ear for contemporary taste. The vintage "El Toro Y La Luna," for example, kicks off as a Spain-evoking ranchera, then evolves into a cha-cha-cha rhythm. Likewise, Omar Alfanno's new "Bienvenida" begins as a ranchera and dissolves into a Cuban son, before giving way to a mambo beat. On the other end of the spectrum is the very traditionally arranged "De Corazón" and José Alfredo Jiménez's standard "El Siete Mares," performed with gusto and bravado. As good as Fernández's impassioned readings are, they can't save "La Bala," which is simply too cheap for this elegant album. And the thrust of "Papa de Domingo," a duet with child singer Gema, about the plight of the children of divorce, loses out to the oversimplified melody and Gema's too loud and too often out of tune singing.—LC