After recording an album with Colombia’s Symphony Orchestra (Fonseca Sinfónico) last year, singer/songwriter Fonseca — who has long been known for his fusion of tropical and pop music — realized there were no limits to the music he could do.
If pairing his music with a symphony orchestra could work, why not pair it with other things as well?
“I opened my worlds up,” says the Colombian singer/songwriter of his new album, Conexión. “There’s a ranchera here, there’s a salsa. There’s pure pop. It’s an album with many worlds.”
Released Oct. 3 on Sony Music Latin, Conexión debuted at No. 2 on Billboard’s Tropical Albums chart and features duets with Puerto Rican salsa star Victor Manuelle and with Fonseca’s Colombian pal Juanes. It also finds Fonseca (real name Juan Fernando Fonseca) co-writing with a slew of names, including Omar Alfanno and Claudia Brant.
While at first blush the most surprising tracks may be those that mark a sonic departure — like the ranchera-esque “Ya no me faltas,” which begins accompanied only by a tuba — Fonseca’s exploration goes deeper.
In “Y tú,” for example, he duets with Juanes (who also plays guitar here), but he co-wrote the song’s lyrics with Juan Gabriel Vazquez, the acclaimed Colombian novelist and author of The Sound of Things Falling.
But by the same token, Conexión very often veers away from the Colombian vibe that so permeates Fonseca’s music. “I make my music where I live,” says Fonseca, who now lives in Miami permanently and has a home studio in his house.
“Miami has always been a point of reference for Latin music. And being here, you realize why. It’s not only the city, it’s the producers, it’s the musicians. You have handy many nationalities.”
Those nationalities permeate much of Fonseca’s album, despite the fact that his producer was another Colombian, Julio Reyes. But his co-writers range from Peru’s Gianmarco to Venezuela’s Fernando Osorio to Panama’s Omar Alfanno.
“This city is a point of convergence for Iber America,” says Fonseca, a fact that is perhaps best reflected in “Amor Eterno,” a track he co-wrote with Gianmarco, a Latin Grammy-winning singer/songwriter, and which ended up becoming a salsa and performed as a duet with Puerto Rican star Victor Manuelle.
Perhaps the biggest twist is that in Colombia, Conexión will be released in tandem with an homage album to late vallenato star Diomedes Díaz, who died in 2012.
Fonseca recorded 12 Diaz tracks, and in Colombia, will tour beginning January mixing both album concepts.
“I like the notion of making the album that pops into my head,” he laughs. “I like that.”
Here are four key Conexión tracks, in Fonseca’s words:
“Puede Ser” (Maybe): I wrote this with Fernando Osorio. It came from a conversation we had about how difficult the reintegration process [for guerilla fighters and other war amnesty recipients] is. And from that very philosophical conversation, this came out. It was supposed to be a party song!
“Amor Eterno” (Endless Love): When Gianmarco and I started writing, we never imagined it would become a salsa track. But then, it did, and we wanted that authentic, piercing sonero voice, so we asked Victor Manuelle.
“Ya no me faltas” (I No Longer Miss You): It’s kind of a ranchera. First time I do it. It mixes ranchera and tango.
“Entre mi vida y la tuya” (Between Your Life and Mine): This hit No. 1 on Billboard’s Tropical Radio chart. It’s one of the tropical songs in the album. Tropical is still a very strong presence in this album.