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Critics' Reviews

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Paul Simon has argued that an artist's debut album is often his or her best because when artists have a lot on their minds and finally get a chance to record, the results can be unusually inspired. Simon's theory would explain the dreaded sophomore curse; second albums, in some cases, are disappointing because the artist has already used up many of his or her best ideas. Of course, there have been numerous sophomore albums that were anything but disappointing -- Led Zeppelin II, Madonna's Like a Virgin, Ice-T's Power -- and David Bisbal shows no signs of a sophomore slump on his second album, Bulería. The Spanish pop singer showed considerable promise on his first album, Corazón Latino, and is equally triumphant on this follow-up. Some of the credit for Bulería's excellence goes to the prolific Kike Santander, who produced this 2004 release and wrote or co-wrote many of the songs. Thanks to Santander, Bisbal has a lot of great material to work with -- and he sings with much conviction on exuberant, flamenco-influenced offerings like "Oye el Boom," "Camina y Ven," and the hit title track. Bisbal is far from a traditional flamenco artist -- his orientation is Latin pop -- but he does incorporate flamenco elements on some of the disc's up-tempo items. And on "Cómo Olvidar?" he draws on both flamenco and Afro-Cuban salsa. The singer is equally captivating on the 51-minute CD's romantic ballads, which show an awareness of Julio Iglesias. Perhaps Iglesias is too obvious and easy a comparison; still, it's hard not to think of Iglesias when you hear romantic Latin pop ballads performed with a Castilian accent. Not that Bisbal always uses Castilian pronunciations -- actually, he fluctuates between Castilian and Latin American pronunciations at times, which seems to be his way of acknowledging both Spanish and Latin American listeners. Bulería is a fine follow-up to Corazón Latino and is an essential part of Bisbal's catalog. ~ Alex Henderson, Rovi