Ricky Martins new pop album, Life, is his first English language CD since Sound Loaded was released in 1999. Martins music is often full of surprises, but Ive always found them fun, energetic and musically interesting. After first listening to Life, I felt a little confused. Was this a Latin album? Was Ricky moving on to some other genre and forgot to let us know?
But the more I listened to the CD, the more I liked it. If I dropped my expectations, Life became an interesting global fusion, alternating mideastern instrumentation and arrangements with reggaeton tracks. Whether or not it's to everyone's taste, the album is filled with a bold, new pop sound that reflects the diversity of life itself.
There was a rumor of Middle Eastern music in Sound Loaded, but the unexpected rhythms and instrumentation of One Night Man came as a breather from the more predictable Latin pop format. In Life, its hard to find many traces of Latin influence, from rhythm, instrumentation, or sentiment.
That said, theres a lot of variety in the album. Theres rap and hip-hop, with the help of Fat Joe and Amerie on I Dont Care and from Daddy Yankee on Drop It On Me. Theres something that sounds like tribal chant. There are Indian string arrangements. Martins voice, always the weakest instrument in his musical repertoire, is bolder and more confident than on earlier albums and the rock/pop production is hip and smooth.
Dual Disc Format
Life is not a bad CD. It just tries to be something for everyone, and doesnt quite pull it off. And if the acid test of music is youll know it when you hear it, the Latin sound is not something you are going to hear much of on this album. But my Armenian produce guy gave it a thumbs up when I rolled into the market.