Juanes ‘Mis Planes Son Amarte’ CD + DVD edition (Universal Latino) 3/5

Take away the socio-political content of say Manu Chao, but retain the essential elements of Latino pop with a strong element of pop-inflected reggae and you have a clearer idea of where Colombian singer Juanes aka Juan Esteban Aristizábal Vásquez is coming from. This is squarely aimed at a twenty-five to forty something demographic in both the United States’s burgeoning young Latino population as well as in Latin America and Spain, and he most definitely has his devotees among them. For all that, the compositions are in fact melodic with a colourful cartoon-esque inner sleeve typical of the breezy optimistic outlook on life that Juanes portrays via his music. Thus catchy guitar riffs abound on the latin-reggae of ‘Fuego’, and the funkier hues of ‘Es tarde’, which has a mid-tempo groove that is more or less repeated throughout the album without ever becoming tiresome. There is an attempt at mild-mannered pop-electronica on, ‘Esto no acaba’, while the rock-tinged guitar on, ‘Angel’, quickly grates on the ear. One effort at a wider demographic with the English language song, ‘Goodbye for now’, which it has to be said is fairly unremarkable.

Overall, easy on the ear and ideal summer background music to a tapas or two and cerveza (beer) in the garden.

Tim Stenhouse