Before we give you our top five picks from Marc Anthony’s fist album in six years, Opus (Magnus Music/Sony Music Latin), some things have to be established. First and foremost, Marc Anthony possesses a formidable, elastic voice that can play with tempos and emotions with a finesses rarely heard, much less nowadays. Sit back and enjoy the tour de force. It’s worth it.
Second, with production by Sergio George, this set has the piano, his instrument, as a protagonist, more so than salsa albums usually do. Prepare to be surprised by the complexity of the arrangements. Finally, these songs are drenched in romance and drama. Anthony has always been fond of selecting ballads placed over tropical beats. Opus kicks it up a notch. With contributions from songwriters like Maluma, Oscarcito and Erika Ender and Beatriz César (yep, two women), the lyrics are sensual, romantic, evocative and beautifully done. See below for our five top picks.
The previously released single “Parecen viernes” is misleading, kicking off not with a salsa beat but with a straight ahead one-two, guitar-strumming intro before evolving into hard-hitting, swinging dance track. With lines like “With you Mondays are like Fridays” and “We’re nothing to each other but we give each other everything,” Anthony makes us think, but also dance.
“Tu Vida en la Mía”
The closest to a traditional salsa track on this album, “Tu Vida en la Mía” kicks off with a high-gear instrumental intro before going into the more sedate verse.
“Lo Que Te Di “
Anthony loves ballads and loves rearranging them over salsa beats. Few songs in this album so perfectly fall under this description as “Lo que te di,” an evocative track that allows Marc Anthony to stretch the lyrics over the tight, double beat below. It makes for amazing counterpoint that could fall apart in a lesser singer’s voice.
In the full initial minute of “Soy Yo,” Anthony belts out nearly a cappella, with a soft piano-percussion vamp underneath before breaking into the chorus. It’s one of the many surprises to be discovered in this unconventional track, from the syncopated piano to the trombone motif that underlies the improvisational sections. The impression is one of a track recorded live.
A slow solo piano refrain goes back and forth from major to minor heralds in this haunting track with Broadway musical dramatism. It’s a slow burn, beginning in almost hushed tones that increase in volume and tonality accompanied with the growing arrangement and accompaniment that rises, stops and then restarts. The second time around there’s payback: a stop and then the no-holds-barred montuno.