Alejandro Fernandez, "Dos Mundos--Evolucion + Tradicion"

Album Review

Alejandro Fernandez's superstardom lies in his ability to convincingly deliver in both pop and mariachi, with alternating releases in each genre. With new two-disc set "Dos Mundos," Fernandez tackles both simultaneously-and the results are well-crafted, sophisticated takes on each style. The pop songs range from anthemic ballads to tunes with prominent acoustic string, piano and even accordion touches ("Dibujando Un Corazon"). But legendary regional Mexican artist Joan Sebastian's masterful production on the mariachi set stretches the genre's boundaries, lending it a confident breeziness. Highlights are a spirited bolero ("Pecadora") and an almost American country-style "La Historia Que No" that one can imagine as a vintage "MTV Unplugged" production. Those who buy the pop and mariachi albums separately won't be disappointed, but the versatility of Fernandez and his producers can best be appreciated in combination. -Ayala Ben-Yehuda