Gustavo Cerati, "Fuerza Natural"

Album Review

"I never felt so fine," Gustavo Cerati sings on the title track to his new album, "Fuerza Natural"-and then proves it with a set of intricately crafted and introspective folky melodies, psychedelic splashes and power pop. Cerati's storied past as frontman of the seminal Argentine pop-rock trio Soda Stereo hasn't overshadowed his solo career. On his first album after the group's successful 2007 reunion tour of Latin America and the United States, he echoes the sound of Soda and honors the Beatles ("He Visto a Lucy," "Naturaleza Muerta"), while moving forward with a pared-down acoustic sound incorporating subtle beats and celestial strings. From a sort of galactic country song ("Convoy") to a more typical driving guitar track ("Dominó") to a perfect rock ballad ("Cactus"), Cerati's musical sophistication reaches far beyond your average Latin pop fare. But his South American heart and soul come are revealed in the lyrical beauty of the hypnotic songs on this set. --Judy Cantor-Navas